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3 1151 02743 6793 



William cwfcteY, Esq. 

















18 6 0. 

.C n 

' lob 

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1860, by 


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York. 




I dedicate this volume to Eev. ¥m. G-. Schauffler, D. D., of Con- 
stantinople, who expressed to me, in his last visit to this country, his 
conviction of the truth and accuracy of the views on the subject of 
slavery, presented by me in the Bibliotheca Sacra, and now embodied 
in the present work. I know the feelings of abhorrence and of anguish 
in the hearts of some of our missionaries abroad, in regard to the prev- 
alence of this gigantic sin. . They dare not let the heathen know that 
such an iniquity is tolerated by Christians ; much less, that the very 
Missionary Boards that send the gospel abroad maintain and sanction, 
in any of the churches at home, such a violation of all its precepts. 

May the Lord God bring speedily the time when the churches and 
the ministry, at home and abroad, shall unite in the condemnation and 
removal of this monstrous abomination ! 

The slaveholding tyranny established in this country over the blacks 
has rapidly ripened into a despotism full blown, with all the arts and 
terrors of proscription against even the free whites, who prefer liberty 
to slavery, and dare express an independent opinion, or maintain an in- 
dependent spirit. The masters and managers of this despotism, defy- 
ing all the fundamental principles of jurisprudence, as well as of revealed 


religion, have set up slavery even on the throne of Justice, confounding 
and concentrating, out of the maxims and prejudices of past wicked- 
ness and darkness, the present rule of slaveholding piety and policy, 
that black men have no rights thatiohite men are bound to respect. They 
are, as Mr. Coleridge did not hesitate to designate them, a legalized 
banditti of siEN-STEALERS, and they are ready to hang at the nearest 
lamp-post all ■who resist or even disavow the laws of their brotherhood. 
But, as Edmund Burke said of the leaders of the French Beign of 
Terror, " Their tyranny is complete in their justice, and their lanterne 
is not half so dreadful as their court." 

Their religion is still worse than either, being a perversion of the 
gospel of love into a law of malignity and cruelty, so that every virtu- 
ous and honest man must, by the necessity of truth and conscience, be 
an unbeliever, and only a depraved heart could receive such a pre- 
tended revelation. It is the conviction of the impossibility of a divine 
revelation sanctioning so diabolical a cruelty and crime as that of human 
slavery, that has led to the preparation of this volume, in every part of 
which I have adhered to the logic of God's word, and while dealing 
with the original have made the argument plain and simple to the Eng- 
lish reader. 

The ground studies of the work, so far as the Old Testament is con- 
cerned, were published in several successive numbers of the Biblio- 
theca Sacra, in the years 185-5 and 1856. Out of the intolerable 
pressure of the accusation that the Old Testament sanctioned slavery, 
the investigation was begun, and has been continued ; the result is the 
demonstration in this volume, which, being drawn from God's word, 
we fear not to challenge the overthrow of it by the defenders of slavery 
as an impossibility. A similar survey of the teachings of the Bible on 
this subject had been admirably presented, in part, in a tract on the 
Mosaic system of servitude, by the late venerated and lamented Judge 
Jay, whose services to his country as a Christian jurist, statesman, phi- 
lanthropist and patriot, the bitter enemies of his abolitionism have 
vainly attempted to depreciate or conceal. 

I have demonstrated the power and duty of the church and ministry 


with the "Word of God against this sin. Indifference and neutrality in 
this conflict are treason. " He who supports the system of slavery," 
said the Abbe Raynal, " is the enemy of the whole human race, and 
whoever justifies it deserves the utmost contempt from the philosopher, 
and from the negro a stab with his dagger." Raynal here states a 
principle of desert, not a rule of action. But again he says, " If there 
existed a religion which tolerated or authorized, though only by its si- 
lence, such horrors ; if, occupied with idle questions, it did not thunder 
without ceasing against the authors and instruments of this tyranny ; 
if it made it a crime for the slave to break his chains ; if it endured in 
its bosom the unjust judge who would condemn the fugitive ; if such a 
religion existed, would it not be necessary to bury its ministers under 
the ruin of their own altars?"* 

The Abbe Raynal was a Roman Catholic, but he wrote like a prophet, 
and he describes the religion of Protestants, if they sanction this in- 
iquity. The right of slavery, he justly declares, is the right to commit 
every species of crime ; so that a church defending this right is no more 
a church of Christ, but a synagogue of Satan. 

Let those who have affirmed that American slavery could not exist 
out of the church, were it not protected in it, themselves preach 
against it ; let the churches and the ministry not merely denounce it 
in Confessions and General Assemblies, but proclaim the word of God 
against it from the pulpit, and apply the law of Christ in its excommu- 
nication, and our whole country would speedily be redeemed from the 
infinite curse and crime. "We have been too justly called a people of 
Good Resolutions ; and the publication of strong whereases and resolves 
gains, generally, sufficient reputation for anti-slavery principles, without 
any necessity or intention of practising upon them. May God give us 
grace to do, as well as say. 

As Republicans and Christians let us adopt the generous sentiment 
of Sir Samuel Romilly. " A genuine love of liberty is not a selfish 
feeling confined to ourselves, and to the contracted circle of our privi- 

+ Abbe Kaynal, Histoire Philosophique des deux Indes, Vol. VI., pp. 94-111, and 
Vol. Li 23. 


leged associates ; it expands itself to all without distinction. It is as 
indignant at that injustice which we see done to others as at that which 
we feel pressing upon ourselves. It delights in the security of the mean- 
est in the land ; and even rejoices that it is unable to exercise, as it i3 
secure from suffering, an unjust dominion." The sum of the argument, 
and of our duty to ourselves and others, is in the prayer of the Psalm- 
ist, Deliver me from the oppression of man ; so will I keep thy 




Introduction. Statement op the Argument 1 

I. — Importance op the Investigation 21 

II. — Varieties op the Demonstration Against Slavery 29 

III. — Historic Investigation. Patriarchal Life 39 

IV. — God's Choice op Abraham, and for "What 48 

V— Cockatrices' Eggs Laid by Lexicographers 57 

VI. — Examination op Enactments ° 66 

VII.— Idioms of Buying and Selling in the Case op Hebrew 

Servants. No Property in Man 73 

VIII— Freedom and Rights op the Children op Servants 81 

IX. — God's Fugitive Law for Protection of the Runaway. . . 94 
X.— Injurious and Tenacious Mixture op Error and Truth. 105 

XT, — First Instance of the "Word for Servant US 

XII. — "Word-Analysis Through the Life op Abraham 125 

XIII. — The Servile Relation for Money no Proof of Slavery. 134 
XIV. — Different Translations of the Same Word by Our Eng- 
lish Translators. No "Word for Slave 144 

XV. — Patriarchal Establishment op Isaac and Jacob 157 

XVI. — Nature of Tributary Servitude < 169 

XVIL— The Children of Solomon's Servants 184 

XVIII.— Judgment of God Against Slavery in Egypt 191 

XIX.— Times of Service of the Hebrew Servant 201 

XX.— Phraseology for Contracts with Servants 214 

XXL— The Law Against Man-Stealing, or Property in Man. .222 

XXII.— Statute Forbidding The Delivery of Fugitives 237 

XXni.— Demonstration Continued Against Property in Man, . . 247 
XXTV.— Four Impossibilities of Slavery 261 



XXV. — Specific Enactments op the Jubilee 278 

XXVI. — Second Clause of Personal Liberty 292 

XXVIL — Case of the Native Hebrew Selling Himself to the 

Stranger 309 

XXVIII. — Comparison op Roman and American Slavery 326 

XXIX. — The Argument of Silence Considered 337 

XXX. — With the Old Testament in Existence, any New Com- 
mand Against Slavery Unnecessary 347 

XXXI. — Examination op Greek Usage in the New Testament. 

Evidence from Matthew and Mare 355 

XXXII. — Evidence from Luke. Case of the Prodigal Son. . . . 367 
XXXIII. — Evidence from the Gospel of John and Acts of the 

Apostles 379 

XXXIV. — Evidence from the Epistles to the Romans and Cor- 
inthians 384 

XXXV. — Evidence from the Epistle to the Galatians 391 

XXXVI. — Evidence from the Epistle to the Ephesians 398 

XXXVH. — Epistles to the Phllippians and Colossians 406 

XXXVIII. —Evidence from the Epistles to Timothy and Titus. . . 415 
XXXIX. — Evidence from the Epistle of Paul to Philemon. . . . 429 

XL. — Evidence from Hebrews, James, and Peter 446 

XLI. — Evidence from the Apocalypse 452 

XLH. — Appeal of the Moral Argument 462 


Nature and General Scope of the Argument.— Philological, Legal, LTistoeical, 
Moral. — Baptism of Greek Words into Freedom from the Hebrew. — Proof of 
tiieir usage excluding Slavery. — The Relation and Eealitt of Slavery Con- 
demned by the Law and Gcspel. — Consequent Duty of the Church. 

The. argument which we propose to develope, demonstrating 
the iniquity of slavery, is fourfold ; philological, statutory or le- 
gal, historical, and moral. The argument from consequences is 
hoth historical and moral. 

In pursuing the philological argument we begin with the He- 
brew, from which, through the Septuagint translation, it passes 
into the New Testament, where it is merged in the moral and re- 
tributive, and closes with the great decisive judgment, He that is 
unjust, let him be unjust still. 

I. The philological argument is baptized throughout with the 
idea of the virtue, manliness, honorableness and Christian integrity 
of voluntary paid or rewarded labor, as the characteristic of a 
truly free and benevolent social state. An admirable German 
writer has thrown a great light, cv*en in a few suggestions, upon 
the darkness in which this subject has been involved in the Bibli- 
cal literature of his own country. He notes and corrects some of 
the errors of Michaelis. He notes the fact that the Hebrew 
language has no word that stigmatizes a part of the laboring 
community by a degrading brand mark, or separates them from 
the others as slaves, but only an honorable generic expression for 
all who stand in the serving relation. He affirms that among a 
people so occupied with agriculture, whose Lawgiver, Moses, and 
whose Kings, Saul and David, passed immediately to their high 


vocation from the care of their flocks and the labors of the plow, 
there could no degrading significance ever he attached to any 
appellation of labor; for the name of the Servant of God is the 
honorable title of Moses and the pious.* 

There is no word in the Hebrew language for slave, and 
this grand fact speaks volumes. The glorious necessity and 
penury of that divine language in this respect, (a penury the 
consequence of wealth), dragged in triumph the Greek words 
which human depravity had applied to slavery, and made a show 
of them openly, having bound them to the service of a universal 
and Christian freedom. In the work of translation, for want of 
another pure language that had not been created out of despotism 
and servility, the Greek words for service, though stamped with 
the superscription of slavery, had to be taken as the exponents of 
the nobler Hebrew. But the grand old Hebrew significance held 
on and triumphed, being indeed additionally elevated and trans- 
figured by the Gospel. 

The Greek was not laid aside, nor unclothed, but clothed upon 
with the divineness of the Hebrew; and the words that are thus 
transfigured must be viewed as reflecting the glory of that Re- 
deemer, whose incarnation, death, and work of redemption gath- 
ered all mankind into one free family.f To look at them otherwise, 
in their usage in the New Testament, would be as if one of the 
disciples could have stripped Moses and Elias of their glory, and 
compelled them to appear in their earthly and mortal habiliments. 
There is no exaggeration in this. If any man will examine carefully 
the works of those scholars who have written on the principles of 
interpretation as applied to the Greek of the New Testament, he 
will find that though this particular view might not have been in 

* Saalsciiutz. Das Mosaicho Recht. of the New Testament is based on the 

Mosaic System of Laws. Vol. 2, ch. writings of Moses and the prophets, 

ei, p. G97. The first and principal helps for inves- 

f Seii.kk. Biblical Hermenuetics. tigating the usage of words in the 

Part 2, Sec. cexlii. u Thc language writings of the Evangelists and Apos- 

of the New Testament had its origin tics are the text and the Greek trans- 

froin the Greek Jews, and the religion lation of the Old Testament." 


the mind of those writers, yet the demonstration is inevitable from 
their principles.* 

(1.) The leading word ennobled by this process is dovXog, with 
its cognates, as used for the varieties of service. And here what 
is needed is simply to rescue the text from the insane thraldom 
which the defenders of slavery put upon these words, of being 
compelled into the service of that social and civil abomination and 
crime, as if no other meaning than that of slavery could possibly 
be connected with them. The question is triumphantly asked, 
Does not dovXog mean slave ? The pro-slavery interpreters have 
melted down the king's coin, and brought it to their mint, for 
this base image and superscription. They have taken the basest 
and most degraded meaning of the Greek, and have set that as the 
standard of usage in Divine Inspiration. All that is necessary in 
regard to dovXog is to prove that the New Testament writers used 
it as the synonyme of the free old Hebrew word t^>:, the proof of 
which is incontrovertible through the Septuagint translation.! 
" As this version became the Bible of all the Jews, who were dis- 
persed throughout the countries where Greek was spoken, it 
became the standard of their Greek language."^ It became their 
grand classic library, and in it the word that among the Greeks 
designated slaves was redeemed from that degradation, and applied 
to freemen, to the free servants of freemen, and to the children of 
God. But, in addition to this, it can be proved that even in classic 
usao-e, so called, this word and its cognates were not exclusively 
applied to slaves ; so that in no case can their occurrence prove 
that slaves or the system of slavery were recognized or meant. 
These words necessarily all received a baptism of freedom from 

* Winer, Grammar of Idioms of Greeks generally did not understand 

the Greek Language of the N. T., pp. and therefore despised." 

34, 31. "The religious dialect of the f Lightfoot's Works, Vol. 4, p. 31. 

Jews, even in the Greek, naturally Planck, Greek Diction of N. T. 

approached the Hebrew, and had its Robinson, Philology N. T.— Tittman 

type in the Septuagint. " " Their Greek on Forced Interpretations. Tiioluck, 

style took the general complexion of Lexicography N. T. 

their mother tongue. Hence origin- % Marsh's Lectures, p. 3, sec. xiv. 
ated a Jewish Greek, which native 


the Hebrew, by being employed in its translation in so many cases 
where no meaning of slavery could attach to them ; and then 
afterwards by being applied ordinarily to signify the domestics in 
Judean families, the servants who were Jews themselves, and could 
not possibly be slaves. 

In the great and glorious fugitive law, in Dent, xxiii., 16, the 
words used are tiN for the Hebrew, a servant, and dovXoc; for the 
Greek, a servant. Now if, in this case, it could even be proved 
that both these words, both the Hebrew and the translation, 
meant slave and slave only, then the argument would be destruc- 
tive of the whole claim of slavery as having any sanction in God's 
Word. For the person here described as a slave is evidently one 
who in God's sight has a perfect right to his freedom, and the 
same right as to men also, no matter what may be their claims or 
their laws in regard to him. Those claims and laws are so un- 
righteous, when they treat him as a slave, that he has a perfect 
right to break away from them, and God himself forbids any man 
from interfering with that right, but commands every man to 
defend it, and to protect the fugitive in its enjoyment, without any 
regard to wicked human enactments. 

But the stranger and the native were placed upon the same 
footing, for certainly God 'would not have inserted in his laws for 
his own people a privilege in behalf of the heathen which could 
have been denied in behalf of the Hebrew citizen. So that, if the 
word describing the fugitive means slave, it is as clear as the day 
that slavery is unjust and wrong in God's sight, that the claim of 
property in man is sinful and good for nothing, not to be respected, 
but rejected, and reprobated, and defied. 

And if it does not mean slave, then it means a freeman unjustly 
treated as a slave ; so that we have here a case, in the very in- 
stance and principle, in the very text and law, on which the Epis- 
tle of Paul to Philemon is grounded, of the utter repudiation of 
slavery, the denial of the possibility of its being sanctioned by 
divine permission, the assertion of the duty of protecting the op- 
pressed servant, of the claim of the fugitive slave to freedom, and 


of the duty, on the part of Christians, to give freedom to the op- 
pressed fugitive, whether slave or servant, to give freedom to the 
dovXog, and on no account return him into the power of the 

The Septuagint usage of the word dovXog, for free service, may 
be known by comparing the following instances : Ex. xxi., 2 ; Josh., 
i., 1, xiv., 7, xxii., 4 ; Judges vi., 27, xix., 19:1 Sam. xvii., 9, xviii. 
5, xxv., 10 ; 2 Sam. ix., 10, xii., 18, xix., 17 ; 1 Kings xii., 7 ; 2 
Kings i\\, 1 ; 1 Chron. vi., 49 ; Neh. ix., 14 ; Dan. ix., 11 ; Eccl. 
v., 11, where it is for nab, the sleep of a laboring man is sweet. 
These cases, in comparison with others, prove incontrovertibly a 
very general use of dovXog, where the meaning of slave can not 
be admitted or intimated ; and no Jew, in any of the instances in 
which it was applied to any of his own nation, would endure the 
signification of slavery. It thus passed into the New Testament 
as a synonyme of the old, free, honorable Hebrew word isy, and 
was employed by the writers of the New Testaraeut, as of the Old, 
indifferently, to signify servants in families, servants of God, ser- 
vants of Christ, servants among the Pagans, servants among Chris- 
tians; and if at any time it refers to slaves, it is with no intima- 
tion of any sanction of slavery, but rather (as in 1 Tim. vi., 1, 2) 
in the supposition that only out of the church of Christ, only 
among Pagans and unbelievers, can there be found persons who 
will hold slaves ;* and that when Christians are so unfortunate as 
to be held under such a yoke, they must endure it to the honor of 
God, in the hope of the conversion of their heathen masters, al- 

* SAALScnuTZ. Das Mosaiscte from which every element of slavery 

Recht. Laws of Moses, vol. 2., 715. was excluded. He points out what 

He remarks on the impossibility of he designates as a most pernicious 

the system of slavery having pre- mistake brought in by Machaehs j 

vailed among the Hebrews, in the that of giving the title of bondage or 

sense of that word in modern times, slavery to the system of Jewish ser- 

and among the nations out of Judea ; vice, when it was not slavery at all, 

and states the impropriety of tho and did not allow of slavery. The 

term slavery being applied to the work of Saalschutz was published in 

Hebrew system of domestic service, Berlin, in 1846. 


though, if they can he made free, they must not be slaves, but 
choulil gain and keep their freedom.* 

(2). The same is true in regard to the word dovXcia, service, 
often rendered bondage in English, but which in the original is so 
often used of the work or ministry of a free person that there 
ran be no argument of slavery drawn from its usage any where, 
unless the context plainly proves that slavery is the subject of dis- 
course.! The usage in the Septuagint may be seen from the fol- 
lowing instances : Gen. xxx., 26, of Jacob's service to Laban ; 1 
Kings v., C, of Hiram's and Solomon's servants ; 1 Kings xii., 4, 
Solomon's service upon the people of his kingdom ; 1 Chron. vi., 
48, service of the Levites for the Tabernacle ; xxv., G, service of 
the singers in the house of God ; Psalm civ., 4, herh for the ser- 
vice of man ; Ez. xxix., 18, Nebuchadnezzar's service and hire 
unto God. 

* Campbell on the Gospels, vol. 2. 
Note on Matt, xx., 27, declares that 
by the word 6uv?.og is meant a servant 
in general, whatever kind of work he 
be employed in, as well as a slave. 
" It is solely from the scope and con- 
nection that we must judge when it 
should be rendered in the one way, 
and when in the other.'' The men- 
tion of the subject, or the occurrence 
of the word, does not justify the re- 
lation or the sin. Neither does the 
silence of the sacred writer imply a 
sanction ; no more than the silence 
of Christ, when John was beheaded 
by lb rod, implied the sanction of that 
murder. See also Dr. F. A. Cox, 
(England) Scriptural Duty to Slave- 
holders, etc. He describes tfav?>oc as 
" a generic term, applied to all the re- 
lations of servitude and acts of service, 
even when no inferiority of rank or 
condition is predicable." 

f Josephus. Antiq. B. xvi., eh. 1. 
He is speaking of the impossibility, 

under the law of Moses, of there 
being such a thing as the slavery of 
the Jews to foreigners. He says that 
in case of crime, a thief, if he have 
not enough property to make restitu- 
tion for his theft, may be sold for the 
amount of his theft, that is, his ser- 
vices may be sold to such an amount, 
and he may be compelled to Work, 
till his labor shall have amounted to 
such a sum. But he can not be sold 
to foreigners at any rate, neither to 
one of his own nation in such man- 
ner as to be under perpetual slavery, 
for he must have been released after 
six years. This is a very positive and 
striking proof of the meaning of the 
Jewish system of service as limited 
and voluntary ; and inasmuch as 
dovAeiav is the word used by Jose- 
phus (translated, however, in English 
slavery), it is clear that such phrase- 
ology does not of necessity mean 
slavery, but is used for the service of 
hired laborers and freemen. 


(3). The usage of dovXevod is under the same conditions. It is 
employed in the Septuagint for the Hebrew verb ixs, to labor, 
and receives and retains a signification of freedom in being used 
as the exponent of that word.* It is employed where slavery 
could not be meant,f as for example, in Gen. xiv., 4, of tributary 
confederates serving Chedorlaomer, and Gen. xxv., 23, the elder 
shall serve the younger; xxix., 15, of Jacob serving Laban ; xxxi., 
6, of the same ; Ex. xxi., 2, 6, of the service of the Hebrew ser- 
vant; Deut. xv., 18, worth a double hired servant in serving six 
years ; Hosea xii., 12, Israel served for a wife. 

(4). The word outer7]g is another term employed in the New 
Testament for servants, which might mean slave, if the context 
rendered it necessary, if the subject matter was that of slaves or 
slavery ; but also it is used for freemen and free servants, and 
might be applied, and was applied, in that sense. 

Now oinerrig is rendered by Calvin in the Latin word famulus, 
and he notes that inasmuch as it is not dovXot, but olnerai, that 
is used in 1 Pet. ii., 18, the passage may be understood to refer 
to free servants as well as slaves. J And Bretschn eider says that 
oiKerrjg is used not merely of slaves, but also of freemen, of the 
wife and the children.§ Josephus employs this word for servants 
of the Hebrews, who could not possibly be slaves.|| It is em- 

* Josephus, Antiq., B. 3, ch. xii., Trypho, where he employs the word 

sec. 3. He describes the fiftieth year edov?,evaiv to signify the labor of 

as " a jubilee, in which debtors were Jacob in the service of Laban. This 

freed from their debts, and the ser- was not slavery, but a free, voluntary 

vants were set at liberty, which ser- contract. See Gen. xxix., 15, 20. 

vants (translated slaves in the Eng- •)• Stephanus, Thesaurus. He gives 

lish) became such, though of the same an instance from Diogenes Laertius 

stock, by transgressing." The Greek of 6ov?.evu applied to working for 

is not slaves, but being employed of wages. 

Hebrews certainly signifies a free ser- % Calvin, Com. in 1 Peter ch. ii. 

vice on a voluntary contract ; ol § Bretscuneider, Lex. " Non so- 

dovXevovTEQ eTiEvdepoL d<pievTai, those lum de servis, sed etiam de liberis." 

engaged at service were set free. This || Josephus against Apion, B. 3, 

phraseology is that used also by Jus- Sec. 19, and elsewhere. 
Tin Martyr in his Dialogue with 


ployed in the Septuagint for tliose who were not and could not 
be slaves.* In the same way it is employed in the New Testa- 
ment. Stephanus, Liddell and Scott, Schleusner, refer to a similar 
usage in classical writers, so that it is sometimes opposed to SovXov 
(Herodotus, example, also Xenophon), and in the N. T. there could 
he no indication or intimation from it of the existence of slavery. 

Now Facciolatus renders famulus by the Greek word vTC7]per7]g, 
and the Latin words minister, servus. \ At the same time he says 
that famulus is employed concerning a free man serving another, 
and ministering. Hence Ulpian is quoted showing that all, even 
free men, are comprehended under the name of fami lice,- who are 
in service ; famulus is also used concerning ministers of the gods. 

Again, servus is rendered by Facciolatus as famu lus, and SovXog 
and Oeparruv are presented as synonyms in the Greek. But he 
quotes Cicero pro Cluentio as saying, Legum id circo omnes servi 
sumus, ut liberi esse possimus, we are all for this very purpose 
servants to the law, that we might be free. A wise and beautiful 
apothegm, not a little like the language of Paul in regard to our 
being servants of Christ, that we might have perfect freedom. 
And even concerning the word vema,\ a home-born slave, Facci- 
olatus says that it was used sometimes in application to a freeman 
born at Rome. But as to Oepa-nuv, which Facciolatus has set 
with dovXog, as the translation of servus, the lexicographers affirm 
that in Homer and the old authors it always differs from dovXog, 
as implying free and honorable service. But in Chios depanovreg 
was the name for their slaves. 

Now deparroyv is the word used by the Septuagint, instead of 
dovXog, in several instances, concerning Moses, as a translation of 
the Hebrew nry, the -word for servant, though, as is well known, 
the word dovXog is most commonly employed for all forms and 
qualities of service. But deparruv is also the word employed by 

° Sept. Trans. Gen. xxvii., 37; f Facciolatus, Lex. Lat. Famulus. 

Lex. xxv. 42, 55 ; Num. xxxii., 5 ; % Becker, Gallus, 213. " Vernce, 

Prov. xxii., 7 ; Deut. xxxii., 5, (of children resulting from the contuber- 

Moses). nium among the slaves." 


Paul in the epistle to the Hebrews (ch. iii., 5), in regard to Moses, 
and it is the only instance in all the New Testament in which this 
word is used, while 6ovXog is used in cases without number, of 
free men in free, voluntary and honorable service. All this 
shows (1) how closely the usage in the New Testament follows that 
of the Septuagint, and (2) how impossible it is to draw any con- 
clusion from the use of any word, which, in the classical Greek 
writers, may have ordinarily meant slave, that such is the .mean- 
ing of the word in the New Testament. The Septuagint trans- 
lators of the Hebrew Scriptures were the classics of the New 
Testament writers, although Paul was familiar, perhaps, with all 
the Greek literature of his time. 

The proof from the use of the word deparrajv is conclusive as 
to the freedom of the domestic service and of servants among the 
Hebrews. It is used not only of Moses, in Numbers and Joshua, 
but of Job, in the book of Job, (i., 8 ;" ii., 3 ; xlii., 1 ;) and by Job 
himself concerning his own servants, (xix., 16,) I called my ser- 
vant, and he gave me no answer, and (xxxi., 13,) If I did despise 
the cause of my man-servant or of my maid-servant, etc., and of 
servants generally, (iii., 19,) the servant is free from his master, 
and (vii., 2,) as a servant earnestly desircth the shadow, etc. It 
is used also in Numbers xxxii., 31, of the children of Gad and 
Reuben. The use of this word by Paul, in the Epistle to the He- 
brews, in speaking of Moses, was adopted, there cannot be a doubt, 
because the Septuagint translation used it in places which referred 
to Moses as God's faithful servant over God's house. 

Moses is also called in the Septuagint otKer^g (as in Dent. 
xxxiv., 5). In the New Testament oinerrjg no more indicates a 
slave than oiKerr]g or deparrcjv in the Septuagint translation of the 
Old Testament. Trommius renders the word, domesticus, famulus, 
servus.* And domesticus is the word employed by Lardner for 
ouceioi, in rendering the text Eph. ii., 19, "no more strangers, but 
fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." You 

* Tromhii Concord. Grtec. Vet. Test, oikettjs. 


have equal rights of citizenship with the people and natives of the 
country, and are God's domestics.* "Whether domesticus, or famu- 
lus, or servus, in the translation into Latin he employed, or ouiernc;, 
or diatcovog, or dovXoq, or QepaTruv, in the Greek, there is no more 
indication of slavery than when the Hebrew word for servant 
nrs is employed in the Old Testament,! and rendered by the 
Greek translators OLK£rnq,\ or dovXoq, or Qepa-rruv, or by the Latin 
yolgate servus, or famulus, or domesticus, or verna. 

(5.) An examination of the Scptuagint usage of the words 
6ovXv, maidservant, and TraidiOKV, maiden, damsel, servant, as 
employed for the Hebrew words rues and rtrtew, reveals the same 
conditions. These Greek words received the same free signifi- 
cance from the Hebrew, and carried it into the dialect of the New 
Testament. In Ruth iii., 9, SovXtj, handmaid, is applied to Ruth 
herself; so in ii., 13. So, 1 Sam. i., 11, 16, 18, of Hannah ; and 
chapter xxv., several times 'of Abigail ; 2 Sam. xx., 17. Saal- 
schutz and others have noted the free signification of these Hebrew 
words; improperly, at any time, translated by words that convey 
the meaning of slavery. Bondwoman is not the proper translation 
of the word designating Hagar in Hebrew as Sarah's maid. 

(6.) The usage of TraidioM] is subject to the same law. Gen. 
xxi., 10, 12, 13 ; xxx., 3 ; xxxi., 33 ; Ex. xx., 10, 17 ; xxi., 20, 32 ; 
xxiii., 12; Deut. xii., 12, 18; xv., 17 ; xvi., 11, 14; Ruth ii, 13 ; 
iv., 12 ; 1 Sam. xxv., 41 ; Jer. xxxiv., 9, 11, 16. The examination 
demonstrates its usage of free persons. To translate it by the 
word londwoman or slave would be to convey a falsehood under 
the claim of revelation. 

All these words are used in the New Testament of free persons. 

* Lardxer on Peter. "Works, Vol. could not be called slaves. They were 

6, p. 218. in no sense such. He exposes the 

\ Saalschctz. Laws of Moses, falsehood of any such appellative to 

Vol. 2, 714. "With what justice (this the system. 

writer well demands) can any one ap- % BRETsenNEtDER. Lex. N. T. 

ply the term of servile thraldom or oiksttjc, applied to free persons, non 

slavery to a free system like that solum de semis sed eliam de liberis, 

among tho Hebrews ? Persons that uxore, filiis. 
were free by law every seventh year 


And though some of them generally, and others often, were applied 
in classic Greek, out of Judea, to the state and custom of slavery, 
they were prepared for Christianity and for the state of freedom, 
first as Hebrew proselytes in. the Septuagint, second, as adopted 
into the family of Christ, where there is neither bond nor free.* 
Such is the course of the argument in all its branches, from 
Genesis to Revelation, under the guidance and presence of the 
free system and words of the Hebrew dispensation. 

II. The second great form of the argument, the legal or statu- 
tory, runs on in the same manner, under the same influences. 
The whole system is a system for freemen, and there is no legisla- 
tion for slaves. Something of the power of the argument from 
the system of laws comes out in the way of contrast. Ye shall not 
commit the crimes which ye have seen committed by the Egyp- 
tians, but ye shall set yourselves against them. Ye were oppressed 
in Egypt, ye shall not oppress one another ; ye were strangers in 
Egypt, ye shall love the stranger as yourselves.f 

This general principle prevailed, and excluded the possibility 
of caste, or prejudice against color or labor, from ever getting a 
foothold. It was a law of Egypt that the murder, whether of a 

* Campbell. Preliminary Diss, now the saints but the infidels that 

to the Interp. N. T. Dis. 2. part ii. call in question the justice of slavery- 

The words Greek, but the spirit He- Humboldt, Kingdom of New Spain, 

brew. Campbell's acute and interest- Vol. 1, chap. vii. 
ing instances of the naturalization laws f Maksiiam. Lex Mosaic. Ex 

in regard to words, and the causes malis Egyptiorum moribus, bones Is- 

and methods of their operation, might raelitarum leges, remarks Marsham, 

be carried, with great weight, into the with as much truth as antithesis. Out 

illustration of the subject of slavery, of the wicked manners and morals of 

With the antique pagans slavery was the Egyptians sprang the admirable 

a virtue of society, with the Christians laws of the Israelites. God never 

it was a vice. With modern pagans permitted his people to be personal 

it is a vice, with modern Christians (but slaves till the crucifixion of the Sa- 

only in the United States) it is a vir- viour and destruction of Jerusalem, 

tue, established by law. Not without But out of the hard bondage laid upon 

just ground did the celebrated Hum- them by Pharaoh grew the legal 

boldt record his sarcasm against pro- provisions against personal slavery 

fessedly Christian slaveholders and through all generations. Lev. xix., 

churches in America, that it is not 34; Deut. x., 19. 


freeman or a slave, was to be punished with death ;* and Heeren 
regarded this equality of the penalty, together with the law for- 
bidding imprisonment for debt, as among some proofs of an 
advancement in moral culture among the Egyptians, such as few 
of the nations of antiquity have made.f It was a law, Diodorus 
has noted, that if any man slew another, or seeing him suffer 
violence, did not rescue him, though he were able, he should be 
put to death. Compare with this, Prov. xxiv., 11, 12, "If thou 
forbear to deliver them that are ready to be slain," etc. There 
was no difference, among the Hebrews, as to the claims of benevo- 
lence, between the native and the stranger. Michaelis notices 
particularly the fact of "the inequality between citizens and 
strangers being counteracted by a law which ordained crimes, at 
least of various kinds, to be punished precisely in the same man- 
ner on both." There shall be one and the same law for the 
native and the stranger.J 

These principles, laid down in the law book of the nation, are 
such, that not only among themselves, but in regard to strangers, 
all manner of oppression was forbidden and excluded. No form 
of slavery could exist with such constitutional safeguards against 
it, any more than a monarchical form of government could exist 
under the Constitution of the. United States. Not till the spirit 
of the people had departed could the forms of constitutional law 
be violated ; and when they were violated, then the wrath of God 
descended. The law of freedom was not only national, but par- 
ticular, extending even to the treatment of the fugitive by each 
individual, the duty of each and every person being to maintain 
and defend freedom for each and every other person. The law 
was of liberty every man to his brother, and every man to his 
neighbor. The attempted violation of this law in the time of 

* Diodorus Siculus. But Plato f Heeren. Ideen uber die Politik, 

thought there ought to he different etc., der alten welt, 347. 

laws for freemen and slaves ; a word % Michaelis. Laws of Moses, 

for a freeman, a blow for a slave, and Vol. 2, art. exxxviii. 
so in proportion. Seo Beckjer's 
Charicles. Excursus, Slaves. 


Jeremiah sent the whole nation into captivity ; so that here both 
the reality and significance of the law are demonstrated, and the 
abhorrence of God against slavery, in such manner as cannot be 
mistaken. The law laid upon every man a responsibility of free- 
dom for his neighbor. 

Entering upon the New Testament, it is not to be imagined 
that the glorious elevation and scope of this commandment would 
be ignored and contradicted. Accordingly, in the Epistle to 
Philemon, we find the rule of giving liberty every man to his 
brother and every man to his neighbor reestablished, and slavery 
abolished. The law of freedom, by the love of Christ, accomplishes 
in the New Testament what the law of God had appointed in the 

III. The historical argument is intimately connected with the 
legal, running along with it, illustrating it, and illustrated by it. 
In exactly the same manner it is baptized with the spirit of free- 
dom, being not the history of slavery, but of God's providence, 
word and grace, against slavery, and of the destruction and misery 
of the nation through the very attempt to establish slavery. The 
attempt comes out, as the climax of Jewish wickedness, in the 
thirty-fourth chapter of Jeremiah's prophecy, the punishment of 
which cured the madness and the crime. The later history dis- 
closes a nation and a social system, the legitimate growth of laws 
excluding slavery, and rendering individual labor, and especially 
the labors of agriculture, free, honorable and ennobling. Every 
man received a just recompense of wages for his work, whether 
the contracted time were longer or shorter.* No idea is clearer 

* Cave on the Mosaical Dispense*- torn of society to have been that of 
tion (Lives of the Apostles), 82. He voluntary labor upon hire, upon con- 
quotes Antigonus Sochseus, two hun- tract between the parties, and not 
dred and eighty-four years before that of slavery, where the master 
Christ, exhorting his disciples not to owned the man, and paid him noth- 
be like mercenary servants, who serve ing for his work, and was not sup- 
merely for the wages they can get posed to be under any obligation to 
from their masters, but to serve God pay him any thing. There was no 
for himself, without expectation of such slavery in Judea. 
reward. This plainly shows the eus- 


or more common, throughout the New Testament, than that of 
the voluntary choice of masters and of service, with agreement 
of the price, the conditions, and the payment of stipulated wages. 
The supposition of such voluntary, paid service runs through the 
whole gospels and epistles. 

And whereas the history in the Old Testament discloses a law 
for the protection of fugitives, exactly such as might be expected 
to follow in the train of a system of legislation that condemned 
the making merchandise of man to the punishment of death, the 
current of the New Testament brings us to the fulfillment of that 
law, under the gospel ; brings us to just such a state of society as 
we might suppose -would grow out of such a system of laws, in 
conjunction with the spirit and precepts of the gospel, with the 
injunction upon the Christian master, in the name of Christ and 
his love, to receive that fugitive as a free brother, no longer a ser- 
vant, but a brother beloved, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 
The historical argument is here perfect and complete, having 
traveled all along with the legal, and now uniting with it in a 
harmony of proof as impressive and instructive as it is delightful. 
This history of the conduct of Paul and Philemon, in regard to 
this matter, was presented, doubtless, for this very purpose, to 
show that the Hebrew laws against slavery and in behalf of fugi- 
tives and freedom were not a temporary speculation, but enjoined 
a practical, essential form of virtue, justice and piety, to last as 
long as the world stands. 

A striking part of this history is the record of the first sermon 
of the Lord Jesus, in Nazareth, on the text in Is. lxi., 1, 2. He 
hath anointed me to preach deliverance to the captives, the ac- 
ceptable year, the jubilee year of the Lord. The last jubilee, the 
closing jubilee of the history of the Jewish nation, "fell with the 
year of the death of the Redeemer."* Lightfoot notes it as a 

* Lightfoot. TIarmony. Part 3. indeed." Lightfoot's chronological 

"Works, vol. v., 135. "Not only a reckoning makes the last jubilee of 

year of jubilee, in a spiritual sense," the Jewish nation, (freedom to all the 

says Lightfoot, " but also a year of inhabitants of the land), correspond 

jubilee in the literal and proper sense with the year of the crucifixion. 


year of jubilee, in the literal and proper sense indeed. But what 
a lamentable confusion and destruction of the prototype and pro- 
phetic history would there have been, if, when the time for this 
closing jubilee had come, being- a festival instituted as a jubilee 
of personal liberty to all the inhabitants of the land, the old di- 
vine statutes of personal freedom had been abrogated, and in their 
stead the gospel had sanctioned and established personal slavery ! 
Instead of this, the gospel abolished all slavery, and brought in a 
new and perfect freedom in Christ Jesus. The gospel law abol- 
ished every thing evil, and fulfilled and carried to the uttermost 
perfection every thing good. This law of advancement from that 
which was transitory and imperfect to that which was to be per- 
manent and perfect, wanting nothing, is so plain, so unquestion- 
able, that it is amazing that any human being could so far foiget 
and confound it as to admit the possibility of a form of oppres- 
sion which had been branded in the Old Testament as a crime 
worthy of death, being exalted in the New into a sacred, civil and 
domestic system, the supporters, defenders and practisers of which 
were to be received as owners of slaves, making merchandise of 
men, into the communion of the Christian church ! 

An astonishing example of such confusion is found even in the 
pages of such a writer as Olshausen, who admits that " the insti- 
tution of slavery could not be approved by Christianity, for it was 
the product of sin;"* but afterwards intimates that inasmuch as 
it was an institution established in the world, and the apostles 
found it established, "therefore they did not forbid it!" "The 
apostles," he says, " would have blamed severely the introduction 
of slaverv, if it had not existed when the gospel came into the 
world!" Just as if the fact of a sin being established gave it a 
solid moral claim, and exempted it from moral reprobation ! And 
again he says, " The defenders of negro slavery can not appeal to 
Paul, for negro slavery is recent, and not from the earliest times, 
but was introduced by Christians themselves, to their everlasting 
disgrace, and is kept up only by fraud and kidnapping." 
* Olshausen on Ephesians vi., 5, etc. 


In this singular reasoning wc nave a decisive .reprobation of 
slavery, as contrary to the law and essence of Christianity, and 
yet its possession of the world, when Christianity comes, is pre- 
sented as a higher law than Christianity, or as constituting nine 
tenths of the law, and imposing silence on the gospel in regard 
to it.* By the same method of reasoning the apostles were bound 
to have said nothing against idolatry, that also being an estab- 
lished institution of society, when and where the gospel came, 
an institution involving civil rights and relations, with which the 
gospel must not interfere. But this is neither the law, nor the 
spirit, nor the history, neither of Judaism nor Christianity, which 
are both as united against slavery as they are against idolatry. 

IV. The moral argument is a combination of the philological, 
legal and historical, which all converge in the great lesson of uni- 
versal charity taught by the gospel, Whatsoever ye would that 
men should do to you, do ye even so to them, and, Thou shalt 
love thy neighbor as thyself. These laws lay hold also of the 
great announcement in the New Testament that God hath made 
of one blood all the races of men that dwell upon the face of the 
earth ; with the other great fact that every wall of caste, color, 
national peculiarity and prejudice, is broken down in Christ, and 
that in him, in the church, there is neither Jew nor Greet, circum- 
cision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free. 
Whatsoever contravenes or violates these laws of love must be 
abolished by the gospel ; no reasoning can stand that disregards 

* OLSii.vrsEN on Coloss. iv., 1. commentator to be the interference of 

Give unto your servants that which divine inspiration in behalf of slaves 

i.s just and equal. To avoid the in- with their masters, not to give more 

evitable conclusion of the abolition to one than to another! If a peck of 

of slavery from this passage. 01- meal a week were the rule, the mas- 

shausen affirms that this direction ter must not give a peck and a half to 

"can not moan equality with masters, any favored slave, for that would not 

for that would be to abolish slavery, be just and equal to the rest ! So 

which was contrary to Paul's inten- deep down into the common sense as 

tion 1 It means rather the equal well as piety of the church and of 

treatment of all the slaves, not pre- modern theology has the poison of 

ferring one at the expenso of another." slavery infused itself I 
And this is supposed by a Christian 


them; no piety is true that does not seek their perfect and com- 
plete fulfillment. 

The moral argument, like the legal, is against the relation it- 
self, as intrinsically unjust, cruel and wicked. And the historical 
and statistical developments, the argument from consequences, 
prove incontrovertihly the disastrous effect of admitting the rela- 
tion as compatible with Christianity. If in the outset the piety 
of the church had faithfully applied the law of God, had taken 
that law, with its legitimate, intended conclusions and conse- 
quences, and driven it against the relation of slavery, as incom- 
patible with Christianity, then would slavery have been expelled 
from the world wherever the church was established. If the 
church had applied the law of God against slavery as against 
murder, judging the relation of the slaveholder to the slave as it 
judges the relation of the murderer to his victim, then it would 
have been as impossible for slavery to have obtained a foothold 
in the church, or a sanction in the world, as for murder. 

But the instant it was admitted that the relation, being civil 
and political, must not be interfered with, and might be inno- 
cently continued, while it was left to the spirit of Christianity, so 
called, to abolish the reality, that instant the whole authority of 
the church against it was paralyzed ; for it was manifest that the 
reality of slavery consisted in the relation, and if that were per- 
mitted and sanctioned in the word of God as just, and not to be 
disturbed, then the reality w T as just and permanent likewise. Ac- 
cordingly, under such treatment, the iniquity held on, till it not 
only destroyed the Roman empire, but ran through the Middle 
Ages, prevailing greatly, even in the church, notwithstanding that 
here and there, as in the cases of Augustine and Isidore,* emi- 
nent remonstrances were uttered in opposition to it, and now and 
then churches and monasteries, and, in general, the monastic spirit 
and rules, were set against it.f Nevertheless, when it passed from 

* Xeaxder, Church Hist. Bonn's, Life. One of the earliest laws in re- 
edit, vol. 3. gard to it is mentioned by Eusebius, 

\ Ecseeius, Life of Constantino in the life of Constantine, who enacted 

and Neander, Memorials of Christian " that no Christian should remain in 


the form of Roman and Greek slavery into the form of the serfage 
of the I >ark and Middle Ages, the reality was still that of slavery,* 
and it was submitted to and maintained, even by the church and 
its corrupt Christianity,! because the church had never applied 
the law of God and the gospel of Christ against the relation itself, 

servitude to a Jewish master, on the 
ground that it was wrong for the 
ransomed of the Saviour to be sub- 
jected to the yoke of slavery by a 
people who had slain the prophets 
and the Lord. The slave was to be 
set at liberty, and the master pun- 
ished by a line." It is obvious that 
such legislation did not strike at the 
relation or reality of slavery as in 
itself unjust, and forbidden in God's 
word, nor had the corrupt Christianity 
of that or a later age either the purity 
or power to enforce the word of God 
against it, or to produce a legislation 
accordant with humanity. 

* Thierry, History of the Norman 
Conquest, S9, 288, 29:;. In the fam- 
ine in 1070, " the Saxon, wasted and 
depressed by hunger, would come and 
sell himself and all his family to per- 
petual slavery." The effect of slavery 
in the depreciation of property, and 
running of the land to waste, was re- 
markable. '■ The land on which the 
Englishmen of exalted rank had lived 
in plenty, maintained, after the con- 
quest, only two laborers, poor and en- 
slaved, wlin scarcely returned to their 
Norman lord a tenth part of the rev- 
enue of the ancient free cultivators." 

"About tin' year 1381, all those 
who were called bond in England, 
that is, all the cultivators, were serfs 
in body and goods ; the lord could 
sell them, together with their houses, 
oxen, children and posterity, which, 
in the English deeds, was expressed 

in the following manner, Know that 
I have sold A. B., my knave, and all 
his offspring, born, or to be born." 
The word bondage, in the Norman 
tongue, expressed at that time all that 
was most wretched in the condition 
of humanity. Yet this word, from 
the Anglo-Danish word bond, meant, 
originally, a free cultivator, and joined 
to the Saxon word hus, denoted the 
master of the house, the husbond, or, 
in modern English, husband. 

f Guizot, Hist. Civilization, vol. 2, 
in his Table of the Councils of the 
Gallic Church from the fourth to the 
tenth century, refers to several canons 
of different councils, as in the years 
538 and 541, making the above- 
named distinction between Jews and 
Christians, doubtless following out 
that very law of Constantine referred 
to by Eusebius, and concluding that 
while it was sinful for a Jew to hold 
a Christian as a slave, and an oppro- 
bium and distress not to be endured 
by a Christian, it might be very just 
and proper for the Christians to en- 
slave the Jews. The Christian bish- 
ops are forbidden from restoring run- 
away Christian slaves to their Jewish 
masters. And in the year 567 a law 
is quoted which declares that inas- 
much as many persons, to the ruin of 
their souls, have made captives of 
others by violence and treason, such 
persons, if they neglect to restore such 
slaves to their freedom, shall be ex- 


of property in man, the relation of slaveholding, as by the divine 
judgment under all circumstances the guilt of man-stealing. 

There always followed, with the relation,* and grew out of it, 
all the excesses, all the cruelties, all the degradations and oppres- 
sions, all the annihilations of right, and disregard of justice and 
humanity,f all the treatment, in fine, of human beings as brutes, 
always inevitable on the tolerance and practice of slavery as a 
system, under whatever name.J In all ages, whatever wickedness 
has been passed into law, whatever has been sanctioned and de- 
fended by any form of government, there have always been a 
sufficient number of Christians, so called, to defend the divine 
right of such wickedness, and give it a respectable place and stand- 
ing in the church of God. On the other hand, God has always 
kept his witnesses against such inhuman and anti-Christian Chris- 
tianity, and sometimes has so exalted them as martyrs, (in the 
modern age from Latimer and Sidney down to John Brown) that 
the light of their burning sheds the radiance of God's own law and 
gospel over whole ages, even in the midst of the excesses of 
atheism and depravity. " It hath been ever hereupon observed," 
said one of those noble martyrs, " that they who most precisely ad- 
here to the laws of God, are least solicitous concerning the com- 
mands of men, unless they are well grounded ; and those who 

* Gaillardin. Histoire du Xfoyen dom, was abolished in Sweden. The 

Age. Tom. 1, 117. He refers to a old diabolic feature always remained 

law of Rotharis, of the Lombards, with it, while slavery lasted, of the 

which sets the slave in the rank of impossibility of slaves contracting 

things, chattels, and treats the women marriage. A volume might be writ- 

in slavery as brutes. " Met l'esclave ten on the internal reason and philoso- 

au rang des choses, et traite la femme phy of this one fixture of the great 

esclave commo une vache ou une ju- vice. 

ment; servum aut ancDlam, seu alias % TniERRY. Hist. Norman Con- 
res mobiles.' 1 '' quest, 288. Wallon. Hist. d'Es- 

f Geijer. History of the Swedes, clavage. Vol. 2, ch. v., 177. Becker. 

ch. vii, 86. To "beat one like a Gallus, Slave-family; and Charicles, 

slave;' to have "as little right as a Exc. Slaves, compared with Blair, 

^ourged house girl," or female slave, Inquiry; Fuss. Roman Antiq. Pot- 

y are expressions found in the laws. ter. Greek Antiq. Grote, Hist. 

Bat as early as 1335, serfdom, or thral- Greece, Vol. 3, 95. 


most delight in the glorious liberty of the sons of God, do not only 
subject themselves to Him, but are most regular observers of the 
just ordinances of man, made by the consent of such as are con- 
cerned, according to the will of God."* 

Now by the Word of God we are bound to meet and conquer 
every thing that opposes itself to the will of God ; for the weapons 
of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the 
pulling down of strongholds; and it is the business of the church 
and ministry to wrestle with the Word of God against the rulers 
of the darkness of this world. The relation of slaveholding must 
be sentenced by the church as in itself an immoral relation, and 
the claim of property in man must be presented as it stands in 
God's Word, as a moral guilt equivalent with the crime of murder. 

It is the great responsibility of the modern church, the great 
work before it, the great honor and privilege offered to it from 
God, to turn the lightning of his Word against this gigantic 
iniquity of the modern age, that, as in the grand imagery of the 
prophet Daniel, "the beast may be slain, and his body destroyed, 
and given to the burning flame." The conquest of this sin through 
the Word and Spirit of the living God, ministered by a fearless 
church and ministry, would be so celestial a triumph, would be 
such a proof of Divine Inspiration, such a demonstration of divine 
power and grace, that it would stir the whole world as with the 
trumpet of an archangel. Let the church of God in our country 
assume this position of authority, and exercise this power, and 
straightway the Gentiles would come to her light, and kings to the 
brightness of her rising. 

And it is a terrible position which those have taken, who stand 
in the way of such a demonstration, and refuse to admit the light 
of God's Word upon this great wickedness. They stand between 
the world and its salvation. They trample the world into infi- 
delity and darkness, for the sake of supporting a despotic, death- 
dealing, popular sin. 

* Algernon Sidney. Discourses on Government, Vol. 1, 315. 


Importance op tite Investigation. — The Mood of Mind Requisite foe it.— The 
Effect of Prejudice. — Impiety of Desiring and Seeking in the Scriptures a 
Sanction of Men's Sins. — Manufacture of Infidelity by the Sanction of 

A more solemn and important question than that of the ver- 
dict in the word of God in regard to slavery, can not occupy 
our attention. If God's judgment is really revealed against 
slavery as sin, then we, as a people, are condemned and guilty 
beyond any other nation under heaven. The investigation 
of the matter can not but be intensely interesting to us as 
men, as citizens, as Christians, to whom the welfare and sal- 
vation of our country are dear. If wo dare oppose this giant 
iniquity, or hope for success in the conflict, we must fight the 
battle against it by the word of God. If it be not condemned 
there, it is in vain that we struggle for its overthrow. If it 
be not condemned of God, men will maintain it, and we have 
no power against it, nor any right to denounce it as sin. One 
side or the other, it must divide society into extreme parties, 
for there is no middle ground, and every man ought to know 
where he stands in regard to it, and by what authority. Every 
man ought to take one side or the other, by the word of God. 
Every man will be compelled to do this, sooner or later, and 
the part of wisdom is to take the right position now, on God's 
side, and for God's truth and righteousness, while a battle can 
be fought and gained on these grounds. 

To constitute an impartial juror as to the judgment of the 
word of God in such a case, it is not necessary that a man's 
humane instincts, or preferences of liberty, should be denied, 


or abrogated, or put in abeyance. It is rather requisite that 
the heart should guide the understanding, and take, at the 
very outset, the side of the oppressed against the oppressor. 
There should be, in the first place, a preference of freedom 
above slavery, and second, a sympathy in behalf of the op- 
pressed, and not in favor of the oppressor. 

We have sometimes found men whom we have supposed sin- 
cere in their professed abhorrence of slavery, evidently bent, 
nevertheless, on discovering something in the Bible to shield 
it from unlimited reprobation. It has filled us with astonish- 
ment and sadness, on engaging in the argument, to discover a 
manifest desire that you may be defeated in your endeavor to 
produce from the sacred Scriptures an indisputable indictment 
of slavery as sin. And even when the demonstration has been 
presented, they have resorted to sophistry and special pleading 
to evade its power. Such men come to the word of God not 
desiring to find the verdict against slavery, but with prefer- 
ences leaning in its favor, and on the lookout for something to 
justify the oppressor, rather than to vindicate and righten the 

This is not a mood of mind in which men can possibly in- 
vestigate fairly. If called to sit upon a jury, they would be 
peremptorily and justly challenged as being interested wit- 
nesses and judges. The understanding is darkened, the judge- 
ment is bribed, the power of discernment is perverted. Such 
a prejudice is as a strong magnet, or a box of steel tools, close 
by the compass, that will turn a ship out of her way, on the 
plainest, smoothest, easiest sea ever navigated. 

Moreover, such a disposition of mind is contrary to every 
rule of investigation and of judgment, even xohere an acknowl- 
edged criminal is to be tried, and where the doubt, if doubt 
there be, is to go in favor of humanity, and of the prisoner at 
the bar. How much more where the question is as to the 
right of millions of our fellow-men to be treated as freemen 
like ourselves, or their destination to be held in bondage as 


felons. The doubt in such a ense must certainly, by all Chris- 
tian obligation, by all moral sentiment and conscience, weigh 
in favor of those held in bondage, and not in favor of those 
claiming the right to enslave them. If we are to remember 
them that are in bonds as bound also with them, and there is 
any doubt in regard to the justice of their being kept bound, 
Ave ought unquestionably to side with them^&ndi not with those 
who bind them. A verdict for the binding can not righteously 
be rendered, without the clearest, most indisputable, most un- 
questionable title. 

And so with the argument from the Scriptures, in which so 
much is involved besides the fate of those held or proposed to 
be held in bondage. The slaveholder must show a clear title 
to hold, and in such a case the doubt is fatal to his title. The 
principle laid down by Paul comes into play, and he that doubt- 
eth is damned if he eat this morsel with a hesitating conscience, 
because it is not a question of a mere act of harmless self-indul- 
gence, more or less, as whether he shall have turkey or corned 
beef for his dinner, whether he shall go clad in broadcloth or 
sackcloth, whether he shall eat two oranges or half a dozen for 
his dessert, the determination of which questions does not at 
all concern the interests or rights of others, much less violate 
them; but it is, whether he shall eat his own dinner or steal 
and consume that which belongs to another man ; whether he 
shall take of his own flock and his own herd for his own pur- 
poses, or lay hands on the little ewe lamb that is his poor 
neighbor's; nay, more than that, whether, in fact, he shall eat 
a sheep that belongs to him, or a man that does not. He has 
got to settle, beyond dispute, that slavery, at the present day 
and in our own country, is sanctioned of God, and that, by 
God's ordinance, the slave he claims belongs to him, before he 
can take him. 

Nor is it enough, if he could prove, which he can not, that 
the practice of slavery was once permitted to a particular peo- 
ple or a designated individual ; in order to adopt it as his own 


right, he must show a similar designation in his own case, an 
appointment from God for himself to act as a slaveholder. 
For the thing for which he is seeking supernatural sanction, 
being the taking and holding of a man as his property, is not 
only an infringement of God's ownership as the Creator, a rob- 
bery of God, but also a robbery of man, and the highest viola- 
tion of all natural right ; and if not, if it were naturally right, 
what need to seek such a supernatural sanction ? "We do not 
go to the word of God to ask whether we may eat bread, or 
drink tea and coffee, and wear raiment, or build houses and live 
in them, or pay our just debts, or burn wood or anthracite coal 
in our fire-places. 

And the going to God's word for a sanction of what all mankind 
feel to be villainy, is a dreadful sacrilege and impiety, especially 
for a professed Christian. It is worse iniquity than that, of 
forging the name of your friend as an indorsement on your 
note, which, without that name, would have been worthless. 
He, it is true, is sure to reject the note as spurious, and the 
forgery will be discovered as soon as the paper is presented 
for payment, but, meanwhile, what mischief, confusion and 
misery may be the consequence. And suppose a company, 
aware of the existence of such forged notes, that should com- 
bine to keep up their credit in order to profit by them, jjassing 
them from one to another, and makiug the world believe them 
trustworthy, what language could severely enough character- 
ize such fraud ? By and by God will protest the forgery of 
his name and authority on the back of these notes of hand 
claiming property in human beings, and he will search out the 
wickedness for a terrible retribution, but, meanwhile, what 
mischief and misery are enacted by the forgery ! And if a 
company take it up, and make a business of it, how wide and 
dreadful the destruction ! 

It is like a corporation of wreckers destroying the lights on 
a coast for the sake of profit in their piracy. It is as if you 
could put chemical poison into the fountain of our sunlight 


for the sake of a more complete and rapid bleaching process 
in an article of your private, profitable monopoly and manu- 
facture. It is as if the physicians in a place, in order to keep 
up their business, should poison the wells and fountains, or set 
malaria in the atmosphere for the purpose of producing or 
maintaining a chronic epidemic. It is as if you should adul- 
terate all the flour of the year's harvest with plaster of Paris, 
or even with arsenic, to make it weigh heavier. These frauds 
depreciate the genuine article, even if there were no other 
suffering or mischief from them. 

Just so the Bible becomes a suspicious book under these 
immoral operations conducted by virtue of its authority. Its 
credit is diminished just as that of a bank is diminished, when 
a company of forgers and counterfeiters have succeeded in 
forcing into the market a quantity of false notes and counter- 
feits. And suppose that, these villains having been very suc- 
cessful in their work, so as to become a great moneyed power, 
with much command of the market, the directors of the bank, 
for fear of a combination against their own business, should 
conclude, instead of protesting the false bills, and prosecuting 
their authors, to guarantee them, and strike a bargain for mu- 
tual benefit and insurance, assuming the false in order to gain 
acceptance for the true ; through how many generations, or 
in how many nations, could such a bank maintain its credit ? 

Now a man coming to the Scriptures, in search of some ex- 
cuse of slavery there, comes despairingly in regard to every 
other refuge, comes driven thither for a shield and defense 
against the condemnation of humanity, comes acknowledging 
that the moral sense of mankind is against it, and desiring to 
disgrace that moral sense as a dangerous radicalism and fanat- 
icism. But what a diabolical hypocrisy and sacrilege for a 
man to come to the word of God, in the hope of proving an 
acknowledged injustice and inhumanity to be no sin ; in the 
hope of finding some sanction and excuse for the deliberate 
voluntary protection and continuance of that which is confessed 



to be a vast evil ! What shall we say as to the moral enormity 
of a Christian man's sympathies being in favor of the sin, and 
against the condemnation of it, against the finding of a verdict 
of such condemnation in the Scriptures. 

The moral sense of mankind being against slavery, and there 
being something in the heart and conscience of every inves- 
tigator of the subject, which tells him that it certainly is not 
one of the Christian graces, and it being indisputable that the 
world regard it as selfishness and oppression, every Christian 
man might be supposed to hope that the book which he con- 
siders and teaches to be the only written revelation from Je- 
hovah, the only infallible guide as to morality and religion, 
will be found so clearly on the side of justice and humanity, 
as to leave no doubt what is justice and humanity; and that, 
tvhen God has laid down the great rule, Whatsoever ye would 
tfiat men should do to you, do ye even so to them, he will 
not be found sanctioning that which is the completest violation 
■^f that rule. One would think that the sympathies of every 
true Christian would lead him. to desire a verdict in the Scrip- 
tures in behalf of freedom and against slavery, and that he 
would come to the Bible, not to find some ground for defend- 
ing slavery from the spontaneous and all but universal repro- 
bation of mankind, or some apology for holding human beings 
in bondage, or some protection of a system admitted to be 
the source and concatenation of boundless crime and misery, 
but some irresistible weapons for its overthrow. How can it 
be, that any man should not come with a mind open to con- 
viction, and a heart ready to hail the condemnation of such a 
system, instead of being drawn by the argument like a bul- 
lock to the slaughter ? We have sometimes been amazed to 
meet with an evident disappointment in the minds of jn'ofessed 
Christians, on having it demonstrated to them that there was 
nothing in favor of slavery in the word of God ; the admission 
has been extorted, unwilling, and the acknowledgment re- 
sisted and evaded every step of the way. 


Any thing miraculous in God's word, we can believe, be- 
cause its morality is so heavenly, because the revelation is for 
man's good, and tends to make a heaven upon earth ; but it 
is impossible to believe an institution that grows out of theft, 
cruelty, and murder, and perpetuates all those iniquities ; an 
institution which is the climax and support of all villainy, to 
have come down from God. 

The book being a transcript of God's holiness, we must be- 
lieve it to have come from him, for without it, and before it, men 
did not know God ; but the moment we should find it to be 
a transcript, apology and sanction of men's vices, we must in- 
evitably reject and despise it. It is to be supposed that every 
true Christian would desire to remove every shade of doubt 
or darkness cast upon the holy Scriptures, every cloud that 
dims the brightness of their evidence as the word of God, 
every barrier of ignorance and prejudice against the clear 
shining of that evidence : " Thy word is very pure, therefore 
thy servant loveth it." You do not desire to find adultery 
sanctioned in the word of God, nor forgery, nor murder. 

If the moral delinquencies of the Koran and the book of 
the Mormons are admitted to be insuperable objections against 
any supposition of those books being from God, so as to take 
away all obligation upon any person even to examine their 
claims, would not the sanction of human slavery, as known 
by its fruits, and for the sake of its fruits, much rather release 
a man from any such obligation ? Let a man know what 
slavery is — its origin, its results, and the means by which it is 
sustained and propagated — and then tell him that such as it is, 
it is supported and commanded in this book, and would he not 
have reason to say, " This being the case, I am not bound to 
examine any farther. I know that this book can not be from 
God ?» 

There are things in the Bible which men wrest, not for the 
sake of good, but for evil, and for their own destruction ; and 
such are the texts which they have endeavored to torture 



into the likeness of some permission of this sin. They might 
as well plead, while keeping a class of men, for their own profit, 
ground down and debased in an employment which would 
inevitably make them cruel, profane, insensible, and reckless, 
that they were sanctioned in so doing by the passage Avhich 
says that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. The men, ministers, 
and churches, who plead Scripture as the shield and sanction 
of slavery, are wholesale manufacturers of infidelity.* 

* These errors and immoralities of 
opinion and of practice have been 
extended and perpetuated even 
through the medium of books pre- 
pared for children, and books of 
piety. Take the following for one 
example, by the American Sunday 
School Union. 

" Slavery seems to have existed 
before the flood. Noah speaks of it 
as a thing well known. Among the 
ancient patriarchs it was very com- 
mon. The servants, of whom wo 
hear in the history of their times, 
were properly slaves, who might bo 
bought and sold without any regard 
to their own will. Some of the 
richer shepherds, like Abraham and 
Job, appear to have had thousands 
of them belonging to their house- 

This passage occurs in a work by 
Rev. John W. Nevin, D. D., entitled, 
" Summary of Biblical Antiquities, 
for the use of Schools, Bible Classes 
and Families." Every sentence in 
the paragraph is the statement of an 
absolutely false assertion, even from 
the first, for not a word nor a hint is to 
be found in the Bible concerning 
slavery before the flood. Yet these 
falsehoods are for the instruction of 
children ! 

In a valuable work on the Legal 
Rights of "Women, by E. D. Mans- 
field, the writer declares that Hebrew 
wives were bought with money or 
produce, and that this was the con- 
sequence of the right of the father to 
sell his children as skives ! He refers 
to Michaelis for proof. Yet the 
thought hardly seems to have sug- 
gested itself how dreadful a reproach 
this throws upon the Bible, and how 
impossible it is to maintain as a di- 
vine revelation a book which could 
be proved to have permitted and en- 
joined the traffic in human beings, 
and the selling of children by their 
parents as slaves ! Calmet, and tlio 
Encyclopedias generally, have circu- 
lated the same error. Rees is an 
honorable exception. 

The same monstrous assertion we 
find transferred to the pages of the 
Commercial Gazetteer, published by 
the Harpers, and there also we are 
referred to Michaelis, as the authority, 
being informed that in Judea, and in 
Rome alike, parents had the power 
of seUing their children for slaves 1 
See the corrections of Michaelis, by 
Saalsciiutz, Das Mos. Kecht, Laws 
of Moses, Vol. II. 


Varieties of the Demonstration Against Slavery. — Historic, Legal an» 
Social Combinations of tiie Argument. 

The argument against slavery, both from the Old and New 
Testament, is various and ample, amounting to a demonstra- 
tion of God's abhorrence of this sin, as palpable and cogent 
as the demonstration against idolatry itself. We have, first, 
the historic record of a state of society appointed of God, in 
which there is no trace of slavery to be found ; the first and 
only indisputable case of it, or of men's availing themselves 
of its existence, being marked as a case of man-stealing, ag- 
gravated and monstrous. 

'Second, we have the record of God's reprobation of such an 
approximation to slavery as was witnessed in the oppression 
of the Hebrews by the Egyptians, and of God's vengeanoe 
against their oppressors for such a crime. 

This is accompanied and followed, thirdly, by a perpetual 
injunction against ever imposing on any other race any similar 
bondage ; and we have a series of the divine precepts for the 
humane and generous treatment of the stranger, the outcast, 
the unprotected and oppressed, and repeated warnings from 
God never to treat any human beings, but especially the weak 
and friendless, with unkindness ; a fortiori, the culmination 
of cruelty and oppression in the system of chattel slavery 
much more intensely reprobated and forbidden of God. 

Fourth, we have a series of explicit divine statutes, appoint- 
ing the system of domestic service, marking its bounds, guard- 
ing against the possibility of its passing into oppression or 


slavery, protecting the rights of the servants as carefully as 
those of the masters, forbidding servants to be sold as slaves, 
and rendering the establishment of slavery impossible. 

Fifth, Ave have separate, fundamental, unlimited statutes, 
condemning with the penalty of death that crime which is the 
origin and essence of slavery, man-stealing, holding, and sell- 
ing, and forbidding any restoration to his master of any ser- 
vant a fugitive from his master. The conclusion from these 
statutes is unavoidable, that the claim of property in man is 
not only without foundation in justice, but is a crime ecpiiva- 
lent in guilt to that of murder. 

Sixth, we have historical and legal decisions and precedents, 
growing out of these statutes, and settling their interpretation. 

Seventh, we have great and solemn recorded cases of the 
divine wrath in consequence of the violation of those statutes, 
and the divine judgment against the transgressors. 

Eighth, we have the curse of God attached to unjust law, 
and men forbidden to obey it. 

Ninth, we have the commentaries of the prophets upon 
the laws, in a body of denunciations against oppression and 
slavery, and injunctions of freedom, and demands of justice 
and benevolence towards the oppressed, the like of which are 
not to be found the world over, nor ever existed in the juris- 
prudence or literature of any nation ; and which, if slavery 
had been sanctioned in the law of God, would stand forth in 
glaring contradiction and condemnation of that law. 

Tenth, we have in other forms the principles of the morality 
of love, of which that law is the exponent, and on which it is 
grounded, and descriptions of the actual life of social freedom, 
benevolence and prosperity which it produces, in such his- 
tories as those of the books of Ruth and Job. 

Eleventh, we have terrible and oft repeated curses pro- 
nounced against both the act and the system of taking men's 
labor without giving them wages ; curses without any restric- 
tion, and belonging logically, morally and expressly to any 


system of which this wickedness is a fundamental element, as 
of slavery it is. 

Twelfth, we have God's requisitions upon men to protect, 
defend and restore such as were defrauded of their freedom 
and their rights, and his demand, as in Isaiah, that every yoke 
be broken, and the oppressed set free ; and to this may be 
added the forms of prayer for deliverance from the oppres- 
sion of man, that so we may keep God's statutes, and the forms 
of promise, that in the coming of God's kingdom, he will save 
the children of the needy and break in pieces the oppressor ; 
a thing which he could not do, if at the same time the severest 
possible oppression had been sanctioned by his law. 

In all these ways, the consummation of proof, as well as 
its variety, is perfect. Nor is the interpretation of particular 
statutes left to opinion or to reasoning merely, but God takes 
the broken statute, for example, and shows its meaning, if 
there could be any doubt in regard to it, by pronouncing sen- 
tence, and executing the penalty. How dare any man assert 
that God ever sanctioned slavery in his statutes, when the his- 
torical record stands undisputed and indisputable, of his public 
indictment and punishment of the whole nation for the intro- 
duction and attempted establishment of slavery, contrary to 
his statutes? God himself, a thousand years after the framing 
of the statutes, calls the people into court, states again the 
substance and meaning of the statutes, reads the indictment 
for their transgression of them, and promulgates and inflicts 
the sentence; and the one crime is that of slavery. The 
comparison of the thirty-fourth chapter of Jeremiah with the 
twenty-second of Ezekiel, and the examination of concurrent 
and immediately succeeding circumstances and events prove 
this, and fasten the application with an awful emphasis and 

" I made a covenant of freedom with your fathers, freedom 
not for yourselves merely, but for your servants, to all time, 
that ye should proclaim liberty for them and nut slavery ; but 


ye have rebelled against my statutes, and brought your ser- 
vants into subjection, at your pleasure, and not theirs. Ye 
have not proclaimed liberty, every man to his neighbor and 
his brother, therefore I proclaim liberty for you, saith the 
Lord, to the sword, to the pestilence and the famine, and ye 
shall be removed into all nations of the earth." That was the 
sentence, and immediately it was executed, almost as swiftly 
as the bolt follows the lightning. This is one example of God's 
own interpretation of his own laws. And so we are confront- 
ed from generation to generation in God's word, with furrows 
of light, mountain ranges of light, precedents like volcanoes, 
where the flame and the red-hot lava forbid all possibility of 

Thus the history grows out of the laws, and is a commen- 
tary upon them ; and every lawyer, and every historic scholar 
knows the value of such testimony. If any old English statutes 
of Edward the Fourth's reign, for example, were in doubt, and 
a case can be found two or three hundred years afterwards, 
clearly attested, in which the statute in doubt was applied, and 
judgment issued, and sentence executed for its violation, thai 
would settle the matter ; that is the very perfection of inter- 
pretation. And thus, in regard to God's own law, God'sjwc^/- 
vnents are said by him to be as the light that goeth forth. 
And such is the interpretation of the Mosaic statutes by the 
sacred history. 

And negatively there is the same light as positively. For 
£ xample, in the statutes we have man-selling forbidden as well 
as man-stealing ; consequently, in the history there are no 
instances ever of any sale of human beings, any traffic in slaves. 
In the statutes again we have a law forbidding the restoring of 
fugitive servants to their masters ; consequently, in the his- 
tory we have servants running away, but never any cases of 
their restoration, nor any signs of marshals or judges of pro- 
bate appointed for slave commissioners, nor any indications of 
the institution of bloodhounds to hunt for fugitives, nor court 


houses with chains for their trial, nor jails to imprison them, 
nor arrangements for having them sold to pay their jail fees. 
All the conditions and junctures of society that would inevi- 
tably have grown out of the existence and influence of slavery, 
had it been sanctioned by law, are wanting ; the inevitable 
consequences of slave legislation, proving its reality and its 
character, are not to be found. On the contrary, all the fix- 
tures of society are found, and all the events happen, that 
would naturally grow out of a state of freedom, the result of 
a system of laws intended for the perpetual establishment of 
freedom, and the prevention, suppression and extinction of 

Thirteenth. Coming down to the New Testament, Ave find, 
first of all, the illustration of this correspondence between in- 
stitutions, and the laws that have produced them, in the ab- 
sence of slavery from the land and nation governed by the 
legislation of the Old Testament. We find that in Judea 
there was no such thing as slavery in the social life and cus- 
toms of the Hebrews. This iniquity does not appear, as inev- 
itably it must have done, had it been a fixture in the divine 
laws for the Jewish people. Had it been a domestic institu- 
tion ordained of God, the whole land would have been, in the 
progress of so many ages, overrun with slaves ; the whole 
nation would have been crowded with them. They would 
have constituted the great article of wealth and luxury. 
There would have been slave marke' .. every city ; and in 
Jenisalem, in the very temple, n r ^nly those that sold doves, 
but those that sold slaves v. ^ald have had their jjlaces for 
such merchandise — their stalls for traffic in human flesh. 

For either it is the worst of all theft, or the most sacred of 
all property. But there is not the remotest indication of 
slavery, or involuntary servitude, or the selling and buying of 
men as property. On the contrary, every presentation of 
manners, every picture of society, and the very parables of 
the Lord Jesus, show the customs of free voluntary service ; 


as, for example, the parable of the householder and his hired 
laborers, in the twentieth of Matthew. Five several times 
the householder goes forth to look up and hire his laborers, 
on a free mutual contract for wages, and there is no intimation 
that there is such an accursed thing as slavery, instead of free 
labor, in existence. So in the parable of the prodigal son, 
" How many hired servants of my father's," etc. " Make me 
as one of thy hired servants." And so in the very next chap- 
ter, Luke xvi. 13, "No servant can serve two masters, for 
cither he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will 
hold to the one, and despise the other." 

Fourteenth. But, more particularly and expressly, we have 
the law of love repromulgated by our Saviour, " Thou shalt 
love thy neighbor as thyself," and " Whatsoever ye would 
that men should do to you, do ye even so to them," with such 
commentaries thereon, as to fasten its application particularly 
to the oppressed African race as claiming our compassion. We 
have the truth of the universal brotherhood of man proclaimed 
anew, and the oneness of all races in Christ so insisted on, 
that in their treatment there shall neither be Jew nor Gentile, 
bond nor free. 

Fifteenth, we have the distinct averment that if a man 
be converted to Christ in a state of bondage to an earthly 
master, and may be made free, he is by all means to choose 
his freedom ; the logical consequence of which, on the other 
side, is the duty of his master, as a Christian, to set him free. 

Sixteenth, we have, in the epistle to the Hebrews, the ex- 
press injunction to remember them that are in bonds, as bound 
also with them ; intimating an habitual consideration of such 
bondage as the greatest of calamities and wrongs upon those 
who endured it, who were to be made unceasingly the sub- 
jects of prayer and of sympathy ; but if so, the conclusion is 
absolute of its being a sin against God for any person under 
the light of his word to hold any fellow-creature in such bond- 


Seventeenth, we have, in the epistle to Timothy, a direct 
reference to the fundamental Hebrew law against men-stealers, 
as a law of God, in full force under the gospel, with an in- 
junction to apply it with and by the gospel ; and assuredly, 
in such application, whatever law of justice and mercy was 
given under the old dispensation, had an enlarged significance 
and scope, and a more direct and intense authority under the 
new. Nothing in this respect was taken from the new, but 
much was added. 

Eighteenth. Then in the epistle to Philemon, we find the 
Apostle Paul, with that old fundamental fugitive slave law 
before him for his guide, acting on its principles ; first, giving 
to Onesimus, a runaway slave, a shelter with him till he be- 
came converted, and then, with his own consent — and not till 
then — sending him back to Philemon, with the distinct aver- 
ment that he was now no longer a servant, but a brother be- 
loved ; and to guard against the interpretation of his being 
merely a Christian brother, but still a slave, it was carefully 
added that he was a brother, not only in the Lord, but in the 
flesh, no longer a servant in either way ; and the confident 
belief was added that Philemon, as a Christian, recognizing 
the same law of duty that Paul recognized, would go even 
farther than Paul chose to suggest, in the fulfillment of his 
whole duty towards this liberated brother. 

Nineteenth. In several epistles we have the command, 
"Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and 
equal ;" an injunction proving that no such class of servants was 
admissible, was to be supposed existing in the household of 
any Christian master, as were considered property — no class 
that were not parties to a compact of service for wages re- 
ceived ; proving that all servants under the .Christian law 
were servants on wages, consequently not possible to have 
been slaves, but their masters subject to the rules for the 
treatment of servants laid down in the holy Scriptures, which 
forbade any other than free paid service. 


Twentieth, we have the institution of Christian churches, 
with their equality of membership and citizenship in Christ, 
without respect to persons, or to class, caste, or color ; and 
in the church we have the whole family relationship renewed, 
and so sanctified in Christ, together with the reciprocal duties 
of husbands and wives, parents and children, so distinctly af- 
firmed for all mankind, irrespective of classes, as to render 
the system of slavery impossible, without defying the author- 
ity of God, and violating every one of those sanctities : so 
that, for the possibility of the preservation of God's ordinances, 
slavery must be abolished, the condition of slaves, and the 
system of slave laws and usages, being incompatible with 
the keeping of the divine commandments, and the prevalence 
of the system impossible, without the defilement, degradation, 
and at length abolition of the most precious gifts of Heaven 
to man. 

Twenty-first. Take, for example, the sacrament of marriage, 
with its wondrous transfiguration in such holy loveliness and 
glory, in the epistle to the Ephesians, where the sacredness 
and closeness of the union between the husband and the wife 
is likened to the union between Christ and the church. The 
passage begins, " Wives, submit yourselves unto your own hus- 
bands, as unto the Lord," and it concludes, " Let every one of 
you in particular so love his wife, even as himself, and the wife 
see that she reverence her husband."* Now let us apply this 
to slavery, and we see instantly that for the miserable creatures 
under the crushing despotism of this damning sin, it is impos- 
sible ; this blessedness was never made for slaves ; from the 
paradise of marriage they are eternally excluded ; and slavery 
does not need a stronger demonstration of its guilt, than is 
presented by this terrific impossibility of the realization of 
that holiness and happiness appointed of God for the whole 
race redeemed in Christ Jesus. Husbands, love your wives ; 
wives, be obedient to your husbands ; as the church is subject 
* Eph. v., 22, 23. 


to Christ, so let the wives he to their own hushands in every 
thing. Conceive of this as addressed to the millions of Amer- 
ican chattels reduced to a state of concubinage for slave- 
breeding, and instantly one of the divinest chapters in the 
word of God becomes a hideous and horrible satire. 

Twenty-second. The same may be said of the instructions 
to parents and children, and of the reciprocal privileges and 
duties of Christian nurture and obedience ; including the or- 
dinance of the baptism of children, and the responsibility of 
their consecration to God. The whole household relationship is 
swept away, and the very existence of the family, as God has 
appointed it, is rendered impossible by a system that forbids 
marriage ; forbids children to obey their parents ; makes both 
classes the mere property of the master, and forbids parents 
from training up their children under any other nurture and 
admonition than that of the slave-market and the auction 
block, in the most absolute chattelism the world even- saw. 
We need, therefore, no other argument to show the infernal 
nature of this American system of Christian slaveholding 
than such a trial of it on the word of God. It is like the 
torture of the boots, the thumb-screws, and the wedges on 
the human system. You might as well say that your lungs 
were intended to breathe fire or the fumes of sulphuric acid, 
or that you can live upon the oil of vitriol, or that the crys- 
tals of prussic acid were appointed for the strengthening of 
your stomach, as that this dreadful scheme of iniquity grows 
out of Christianity, or can possibly be consistent with it. On 
the contrary, it destroys for its victims every ordinance of 
Christianity, and every possibility of participation in its bless- 
ings ; and it must corrupt every element of true religion in 
the hearts of those who practice and defend the system. It 
creates one class of selfish despots, for whom the word of 
God, so frightfully perverted, is made just only a minister to 
their avarice and cruelty ; at whose will, and for the conven- 
ience of their lusts and interests, all the rights and claims of 


others, even to the elementary privileges of Christianity, are 
denied and refused, or parceled out at man's bidding, not 
God's. It degrades and distorts another class into a set of 
creatures for whom the instructions in the word of God are 
inadmissible, or if any of its privileges are offered, it is only 
at the will of the masters, under whose legislation and ad- 
ministration, Christianity itself becomes a perversion of the 
attributes of God, a sneering, tantalizing mockery and tor- 
ture, a fable of charity, but a reality of prejudice, injustice 
and cruelty. 

Now we may not pass from this sketch of the course of 
argument in the word of God against the sin of slavery, with- 
out remarking how eminently and closely scriptural it is as 
a subject of investigation, how appropriate as a subject for 
preaching and teaching, through what highways of light, of 
divine instruction, of the glorious revelation of God's attri- 
butes and ways, and what disclosures of duty and happiness, 
it leads the mind ; so that, notwithstanding the wicked, in- 
human prejudice against having the claims of the oppressed 
presented from the word of God, and the iniquity of such op- 
pression demonstrated, no subject could be more interesting 
and enlivening, and none more suitable for the Sabbath and 
the pulpit.'* 

* See Granville Sharpe, Declara- laws of God, arid whatsoever is con- 
tion of Natural Right, 179. And trary to any of these is malum in se, 
Abbe Raynal, Ilistoire Des Indes, which no authority on earth can make 
compared with Grotius and others, lawful." " Non sunt statuta, sed cor- 
showing that the Law of Nations and rupteke, the laws against Natural 
of Natural Right runs parallel with Right are not laws, but corrup- 
this whole line of argument from the Tioxs," which the will of God re- 
Scriptures. " The Law of Nature is quires every man to disobey. Coke. 
founded on the primary aud eternal Bracton, and others, cited by Sharpe. 


Historic Investigation.— The Household op Abraham.— No Slavery in his 
Family. — Proof from the Hebrew. 

Our historic research begins beyond the period of law, 
amidst the social, habitual life, mariners and morals, out of 
which law ordinarily grows, and of which it is at once the 
safeguard and the assurance. We commence with actual life 
in the society of which Noah and his family were the consti- 
tuted head. There was nothing but freedom—nothing of slav- 
ery there. The second great experiment of God with hu- 
manity, the second great trial of the human race, excluded 
slavery, for God would not permit it to be set up as one of the 
elements of the social state. If it had been in existence as 
one of the crimes of the antediluvian world, God would not 
suffer its inequality, its injustice, its oppression, in any shape, 
in any approximation, to be admitted into the ark ; and the 
second commencement of a world of human beings was solely 
with freemen. God's covenant with Noah and his sons was 
a covenant with freemen for perpetual generations ; and the 
great statute (Gen. ix. 6), Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by 
man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God made he 
man, excludes the possibility of property in man, making the 
race equal, and in all its varieties and generations coequal 
partners in the same rights. 

Noah lived, after the flood, three hundred and fifty years, 
and up to, if not after, the birth of Abraham, nearly cotemporary 
with him, in whom we investigate the patriarchal system of 
society. From the flood to the division of tongues, and the 


scattering abroad of the nations, admit one hundred and fifty 
years ; this would leave from the confusion of tongues to the 
lifetime of Abraham a couple of centuries. This is the only 
interval in which the inequality and oppression of slavery can 
be supposed to have had any commencement. But there is 
no indication of it whatever, and in the very nature and ne- 
cessity of the freedom of society at that time, its existence 
would have been impossible ; not till a later period, and a 
greater multiplication of human beings, could caste and ser- 
vice have ripened into slavery, even in Egypt. 

At the age of seventy-five, A.M. 2083, B.C. 1921, after the 
death of Noah, Abraham departs out of Haran, and begins 
his patriarchal wanderings, journeying towards the south. 
Three hundred years after the division of tongues we find 
him, by stress of famine, with his household, sojourning in 
Egypt, on terms of friendship with Pharaoh, with much riches 
of sheep and oxen, and he-asses, and men-servants and maid- 
servants, and she-asses and camels. On his departure out of 
Egypt, he is described as very rich in cattle, in silver and gold, 
and Lot also is described as possessing flocks and herds and 
tents ; and the only description of servants specified are herds- 
men. They are not catalogued as property, but they have the 
charge of Abraham's and Lot's property, and they quarrel, as 
opposing clans, among themselves. There is not a trace among 
the servants of the household of any thing but voluntary, free 
service. There was no mode of compulsion by which either 
Abraham or Lot could have procured or maintained any other 
service. The supposition of any other is wholly groundless 
and gratuitous. It is one of the most insolent assumptions 
that can be conceived, without the remotest ground of ali- 
gnment or probability, without the slightest fact or hint of 
sacred or profane history to build upon, when the apologist or 
defender takes up the idea of the code and principles of mod- 
ern American slavery, and carries it back to the household of 
Abraham, and from that assumption argues as if it were a re- 


ality. There is not only nothing to justify, but every thing to 
contradict and forbid this conclusion. 

Let us consider it closely. The households of Abraham are 
brought before us and described, in the way of a brief classi- 
fication, in several passages, as in Gen. xiv. 14; xvii. 12, 13, 
23, 27. The first classification is of those fit for war, and 
drawn out for that purpose ; the second is with reference to cir- 
cumcision, and the classes to be submitted to that rite ; both 
classifications are of males only, but they include all the males of 
every description. In the first classification, only those born 
in his own house are included, to the number of three hundred 
and eighteen. The Hebrew phrase (Gen. xiv. 14) is wa vwfcrt 
yelidhi betho, the bom of the house, the born of his house, or 
his household ; a phrase distinguishing the natives of Abra- 
ham's community, those born within the families under his 
jurisdiction, of his tribe, in his service, and under his protec- 
tion, as their head ; a phrase distinguishing them from those 
who were born abroad, and had entered into his service, from 
the families of " strangers," from tribes or races other than 
his. These are not called servants, but instructed ones, or 
persons trained and experienced, persons of pi-oved fidelity 
and skill, who could be relied upon. He armed, or led forth 
in battle array, these trained, tried, disciplined ones, the ex- 
perts, of tried character, born and educated in his own patri- 
archal settlement or household. They were certainly not born 
in his own tent, nor beneath his own roof, but were simply the 
children of families dwelling in tents or tabernacles, owning a 
patriarchal allegiance to him, not owned by him, not his prop- 
erty, but connected with him in the voluntary, definite obliga- 
tions which bound the community of families together. Among 
these families were found three hundred and eighteen males 
capable of bearing arms, and so trained as to be able to act 
efficiently as soldiers. He set them in battle array as such, 
and not either as servants or slaves. They are not only not 
called servants here, but in the twenty-fourth verse, instead 


of being mentioned as servants, they are called " the young 

men," b"n»sn, hanaarim, certainly, beyond all question, free- 
men. The Hebrew phrase describing them as drawn out, 
is i^sh p^»3, vayarek henilcav, eduxit milites ad helium 
(Gesenius), «p?h, initiatus, hiric peritics, prohatai fdei, in- 
itiated, shitted^ of proved faithfulness. He drew out his 
trained ones to war. 

So much for the first classification, founded on the circum- 
stance of having been born in the families of Abraham's patri- 
archal household, and the quality of being able and instructed 
to bear arms, to serve as soldiers. If we add to the males an 
equal number of females, we have six hundred and thirty-six, 
say from the age of twenty to thirty or upwards. Add an 
equal number from infancy up to twenty, and we should have 
twelve hundred and seventy-two, born of the house. Now as 
to the second classification in reference to circumcision, the 
division of males is as follows. In the 12th verse of the 17th 
chapter, the whole household of Abraham is divided into 
" those born in the house, or bought with money of any 
stranger, which is not of thy seed, every man-child in your 
generations." In the 13th verse, "He that is born in thy 
house, and he that is bought with thy money." In the 23d 
verse, "All that were born in his house, and all that were 
bought with his money, every male among the men of Abra- 
ham's house." In the 27th verse, "All the men of his house, 
born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger." 
All but Abraham and Ishmael are comprehended in these two 

In these passages, the division of the whole household com- 
munity is into those born in the house, members by birth of 
Abraham's tribe-families, and those bought with his money 
of the stranger, and not of his seed. There were three hun- 
dred and eighteen of the first class, old enough and instructed 
enough to serve as soldiers in a military expedition ; on the 
lowest average computation there would bo at least as many 


more, too young and inexperienced for such service, making 
together six hundred and thirty-six. It is assumed by thoso 
who assert that Abraham was a slaveholder, that these were 
all slaves, for it is assumed that the phrase born in the house 
means slaves, and if this were the case, then Abraham had, at 
this time, six hundred and thirty-six slave born, and if you 
add as many more females, of all ages twelve hundred and 

Now if those born in the house were slaves, what were 
those bought with money ? They constituted all the remain- 
ing portion of Abraham's household, and if they also were 
slaves, then it follows that every male in Abraham's whole 
patriarchal jurisdiction and community was a slave, and he 
and Ishmael his son were the only free persons among them. 
Supposing those bought with his money to be one half as many 
as the others, here would be a community of some nine hun- 
dred males in the state of slavery and only two free persons 
among them, the owner and his son ! If you add as many 
more females, then a community of eighteen hundred slaves 
in the same case. And this would constitute the whole of an 
independent tribe, a nomadic, roving community, eighteen 
hundred slaves and the owner and his son ; no laws to bind 
them to him in subjection, no military or civil power or pro- 
cess by which such subjection could be maintained, or the slav- 
ery enforced ; and the owner dependent on one half or one 
third of these chattels acting as a band of soldiers to keep the 
other half from being carried away captive by surrounding 
royal marauders! 

If only those born in the house were Abraham's slaves, and 
if those obtained from strangers, those bought with his money, 
and not of his seed, were not slaves, then the absoluteness 
and sacredness of the chattelism were just in proportion to 
the nearness of relationship on the part of the chattels to their 
owner. Those that were born in Abraham's house, and were 
of his own race in nearer or more distant degrees of affinity, 


just in proportion to their home relationship, were in a worse 
condition than the strangers, more absolutely and entirely en- 
slaved ! 

But in opposition to such extreme absurdities, we find by 
examination of the phrases bom in the house and bought xoith 
money, that neither of them intimates a state of slavery, nor 
can, without violence, be so interpreted. This will be demon- 
strated in pursuing the philological argument ; at present the 
comparison of a few passages will be sufficient, as of Exodus, 
xii. 43-49 ; Leviticus, xxii. 10, 11 ; Leviticrs, xviii. 9 ; Exodus, 
xxi. 2; Jeremiah, ii. 14; Ecclesiastes, ii. 7. In these passages 
the usage of the phrases " born in the house," " home-born," 
" sons of the house," is demonstrated as a common usage in 
reference to free persons ; indeed, not a solitary instance can 
be found of their application to slaves. In Genesis xv. 3, 
Abraham says, " One born in my house, "^a-ia ben bethi, is 
mine heir;" certainly not a slave. Bishop Blayney translates 
Jeremiah ii. 14 : rpa tV?, yelidh beth, child of the household, 
and affirms that it answers to the Latin words filius familias, 
and stands opposed to a slave* But this is precisely the 
same word as in Genesis xiv. 14, " born in his oicn house." So 
in Leviticus xxii. 11, of a person born in the priest's house, 
the same phrase. In Exodus xii. 48, 49, the home-born is re- 
ferred to as s-^n hfrN, etzrah haarets, the born of the land, 

In Leviticus xviii. 9, we have an example of corresponding 
usage in connection with rvo beth, as of free persons, "The 
daughter of thy father or daughter of thy mother, born at 
home, n*? rnV», moledheth beth, the bom of the house ; and 
there is no more proof that the phrase in Genesis xiv. 14, 
means a slave, or means any other than a freeman, than there 
is that the daughter is a slave, because called the born of the 


It is impossible to interpret Genesis xv. 3, one bom in my 

* Blayney's Jeremiah — note on verse 14, chapter ii 


house, is mine heir, of a slave. But the three hundred and 
eighteen in Genesis xiv. 14, bom in his oion house, were all of 
the same class, and the phrases are synonymous. The chil- 
dren of the Hebrew servants were as free-born as the children 
of their masters; there was no such thing as chattelism in ex- 
istence among them, nor any such infamous law or custom as 
that which brands the child as the property of the master, 
because the parent was claimed as such, or had been employed 
in his service at the time of the babe's birth. Yet nothing 
less than this infamy of infamies is attributed to Abraham and 
his household, by those who assert that the phrase bom in his 
own house is to be interpreted of slaves. 

But, second, the phrase bought with money, t\z>p— nrj>», miq- 
nath keseph, Genesis xvii. 12, is equally demonstrated as a 
usage applying to freemen, and not to slaves. This is proved 
by Leviticus xxv. 51, spoken in regard to a Hebrew, (who 
could by no possibility be a slave, fcjosto 'tiiSpJa miqnatho mik- 
heseph, the money that he was bought for, the money of his 
purchase, the phrase always used of obtaining a Hebrew ser- 
vant. So in Exodus xxi. 2 : " If thou buy a Hebrew servant," 
the same verb of obtaining, as used likewise in Rnth iv. 10 ; 
" Moreover, Ruth, the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I 
purchased to be my wife," ■>r; , »sp r kanithi, bought, that is ob- 
tained with a dowry, for Ruth was not a slave. So likewise 
Genesis iv. 1 ; used in regard to the first-born of Eve, who 
was not a slave ; Eve said, I have bought a man from the Lord, 
■>iY>:jjj Jcanithi, gotten, obtained. So likewise Hosea iii. 2 ; the 
prophet's purchase of his wife, I bought her to me, the word 
from nns being the word employed, which is placed by Ge- 
senius as synonymous with nsj? kanah, to obtain. 

Now clearly if from the phrase, bought with his money, it 
would be proper to assume that those servants, whose service 
was thus obtained, were Abraham's slave property, and con- 
sequently to assume that it is right for us to buy human beings 
and hold them as slaves, because by this assumption Abra- 


ham did the same, then from the same phrase we can demon- 
strate, first, that the Hebrew servant was a slave, to be bought 
and sold as property, and consequently, secondly, that all our 
servants are slaves ; thirdly, that Ruth, the wife of Boaz, was 
the slave property of Boaz, his chattel ; and fourthly, that the 
wife of the prophet Hosea was his slave, his property; and con- 
sequently, fifthly, to conclude that it would be right for pious 
men now to hold their wives as slaves, and dispose of them as 
property. On the contrary, it is incontrovertible that the use 
of this idiom furnishes no more indication of slavery in Abra- 
ham's household, than it did in Adam and Eve's ; no more 
than the use of the phrase in our language at the present day, 
I have got me, at a very fair price, a good coachman, or, I have 
got me, for a reasonable sum, ten good clerks for our new 
warehouse, or, I have procured, at a good bargain, twenty 
hands for the farm during the summer, or fifteen carpenters 
for the buildings, would prove that the coachman and the 
clerks, the farmers and the carpenters, were all chattels, slaves, 
property, bought, sold, transferred, as you might transfer a 
horse and carriage, a wheelbarrow, plow, carjjenter's bench, 
or clerk's writing desk. 

So likewise the phrase, born in his house, has no connection 
with slavery, and can not be shown to have the least mean- 
ing or intimation that way. But in order to gain the first be- 
ginning of a sanction for American slavery from Abraham's 
household, its defenders have got to prove that God ordained 
for him a law that every child born of any of his servants was, 
therefore, by law of such birth, a chattel, a slave, a piece of 
Abraham's property, and that that quality of property, supreme 
above every other, inhered in that race, generation after gen- 
eration. Men assume this in order to sustain this iniquity among 
themselves ; they can not appeal to Abraham without such an 
assumption. And let every thinking man consider the hideous 
and horrible perversion of thus carrying back, the most atro- 
cious feature of the slavery of our time, and setting that up, 


that enormity of the theft of children from their parents, as 
the meaning of the phrase, born in his own house, a meaning 
which that phrase never bears anywhere, nor ever did bear ; 
as if Abraham laid his grasp on every new-born child under 
the jurisdiction of his patriarchal authority, and said, This is 
my property, my slave, by virtue of the father and the mother, 
or the mother alone, having been in my service, under my pa- 
triarchal supervision, when the babe came into the world ! This 
is monstrous, and would scandalize the pages of a divine inspi- 
ration, if foisted among them. And slavery is altogether a 
thing so positive and dreadful, that mere suppositions or hints 
are not to be endured in the place of proof in regard to it ; 
but you rightfully demand the most positive and palpable 
demonstration of its existence, especially if men are going to 
claim for themselves, by virtue of its alleged practice in Abra- 
ham's family, the right, four thousand years afterwards, of 
property in human beings, the right of enslaving another race 
for ever. If men dare attempt to bring Scripture to sanction 
such iniquity, they must be held to the most irresistible and 
undeniable demonstration.* 

* Butler's Analogy, Christianity revere as the voice of God I Slavery, 

as a republication of natural religion, otherwise only a human establishment, 

The carelessness of men, though them- becomes thus a divine institution!" 

selves opposed to slavery, and regard- And yet, the whole drift of this writer's 

ing it as criminal and pernicious in work, which is voluminous, and very 

the extreme, yet admitting, or taking learned, is against slavery, and a 

for granted, its existence by authority demonstration of the duty of every 

of Divine Revelation, is inexplicable, people to abolish it. How dreadful 

Yet even Wallon, a recent French the supposition, could* it be made to 

historian of slavery, suggests, without a prevail, that the voice of God is thus 

single proof, that Abraham's slaves (/ /) in antagonism with the dictates of 

composed, with his flocks, the heritage natural justice and humanity ! Com- 

which he transmitted to his son Isaac, pare Jay's Works, Letter to Bishop 

and that Moses did not merely refer to Ives, and Reproof of Am. Church, 

such slavery, but maintained and es- Compare, also, Gisborxe on the 

tablisheditbylawl " What authority Morals of Slavery, 144, 155, and 

is thus given to usage," exclaims this Granville Siiarpe's Declaration oi 

writer, "by a Word, which Christians Natural Right, 29. 


God's Choice of Abraham, and fob Wiiat. — If Abeaiiam had Slaves, "What 
Became of Them ? 

Now it is to be marked, in this argument, that when God 
revealed himself to Abraham, and began in his person the 
foundation of a new religious dispensation and race, he plucked 
him away from the manners and the morals of the world as it 
was, and consecrated him as the person in whom all the fami- 
lies of the earth should be blessed, a progenitor of nations, 
and the framer of such a discipline and policy for his children 
and his household after him, that they should keep the way 
of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. A system of justice 
was to be established in opposition to the prevalence of injus- 
tice and selfish power, and a system of righteous judgment 
instead of despotic violence and wrong, and of this Abraham 
was chosen to be an example and head. 

Justice and judgment! These are the attributes of God, 
infallible, immutable, in principle and in action. A God of 
truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. Ashe is just 
in himself, just in all his attributes, just in all his ways, so he 
will not, can not sanction injustice or unjust judgment in 
others ; he can not and will not set at the foundation of so- 
ciety any example of injustice, any fountain or precedent of 
unrighteousness for after generations and ages. 

It is monstrous impiety to attempt to foist such deformities 
into a divine revelation. When we remember with what fiery 
indignation and wrath God has proclaimed vengeance against 
all manner of oppression and injustice: "Wo unto him that 


buildeth his bouse by unrighteousness, and his chambers by 
wrong ; wo unto him that taketh his neighbor's work without 
wages, and giveth him not for his hire ;" when we remember 
how every page of this holy book shines with the glory of 
God's righteousness, and that of old it passed into a proverb, 
that justice and judgment are better than all sacrifices, it is 
impossible to admit that in the first household life and consti- 
tution, through which God declared he would make all nations 
blessed, he should have set a fountain of sin and misery, the 
streams of which make every nation that drinks thereof ac- 

It is equally a monstrous supposition, inadmissible at the 
outset, that a man should be chosen of Jehovah to receive 
and promulgate, or to plant and exemplify, the great com- 
manding principles of right and wrong in human society, the 
manner of feeling and of conduct, of personal and social in- 
tercourse, pleasing to the Deity, and then that this chosen 
ambassador or missionary of religious ethics should have been 
left to take his pattern of life and manners from the heathen 
world — from tribes and nations destitute of a divine revela- 
tion, having corrupted, and at length extinguished that which 
the race originally received. It is impossible to suppose, that 
in such an essential part, both of natural and revealed moral- 
ity, as the rights of men to personal liberty, and the respect 
due to those rights, Abraham should have been instructed or 
permitted of God to take just what he found in the brutal and 
idolatrous, or half-civilized and barbarous tribes around him, 
and to set that as the example in his own household, and trans- 
mit it as the will of God to posterity. If the system of human 
slavery had been established and transmitted, it would inevita- 
bly have left no room for doubt as to its reality ; the results of 
its establishment Avould have proved it beyond a question. The 
passage of the lava from a volcano would not be more surely 
traced by its effects, the position of an extinct volcano could 
not be more surely known in after ages by the discovery of 



its crater, than the existence of slavery by its fruits in the 
laws, policy, and history of the people. 

If in any thing we are in doubt as to the details of the so- 
cial system appointed of God, in Abraham's exemplification 
or foundation of it, we rightly look for information to the 
manner in which we find it developed in his posterity. From 
that development we can argue back to what must have 
been commenced as the source of it in Abraham's own life. 
In default of any specific, unquestionable knowledge as to 
Abraham's domestic laws and habits, we have to look at 
the after result of the system which he set a going; the 
earliest point where the arrangements plainly crop out, as it 
were, shows us what his own practice must have been. If a 
fountain is so deep down in the rifts under a mountain that we 
can not get at its depths, to analyze it there, we must be satis- 
fied with the nearest accessible point, where the stream comes 
rippling through the green meadow, or brawling over the cliff. 
God chose Abraham for the purposes of his righteousness, and 
grafted upon him the graft of a new society. He did not choose 
Abraham to sanction and perpetuate in him the manners and 
morals of a violent and unregenerate age, but to set in him 
the example and the spring of a Christian society, a benevo- 
lent community, a society under the divine law. Now what- 
ever that law and those principles are found to be, when they 
come to be clearly and unmistakably revealed and developed 
in an after age, they must have been in Abraham's planting 
and commencement of them. As the stream is known by its 
fountain, so the fountain is known by its stream. 

If you wished to ascertain the original fruit of the parent 
tree in an orchard a hundred years old, which you knew by 
the records of the farm that your grandfather planted and 
grafted with his own hands, the kind of fruit, we mean, which 
the tree yielded the first time after grafting, would you not 
appeal to the whole orchard, and to the kind of apples it has 
borne in your time ? But suppose that some one should set 


before you the bitter, unwholesome fruit of a wild crab-apple 
tree, the product of the wilderness, affirming that to have 
been the fruit which your grandfather chose for his orchard, 
and intended to perpetuate, arguing that it must have been 
so, because that bitter-crab tree had grown wild in the forest 
for hundreds of years, and the fact of its being in the neigh- 
borhood of the grounds of your grandfather when he grafted 
his orchard, proves that the orchard must have been grafted 
with slips of that wild crab tree. Thou fool, you would say, 
the orchard does not bear crab-apples, and never did, on the 
contrary, it has always been a law of the farm that if any 
were found they should be cut down, and we know that the 
fruit the trees bear now is the very same that our grand- 
father grafted, and used in his own family. Does not the fruit 
of a grafted tree always prove the nature of the graft ? If I 
have half a dozen pear trees in my garden, that bear the most 
delicious St. Michael's, and I know that those pear trees were 
grafted by my father, do I not know that he grafted the very 
fruit which every autumn I use at my table, and not the choke 
pear, which even my hogs scarcely put up with ? Will you 
tell me that the choke pear was the one which my father was 
fond of, and which he carefully cultivated, and intended for 
my table ? How then does it happen that the trees which he 
grafted bear the St. Michael's ? 

"When God converts a man, does he convert him to perpet- 
uate by him the works of the devil, or to destroy the works 
of the devil, and introduce the fruits of grace ? When a man 
is cut out of the wild olive, and grafted into the true olive, is it 
for the purpose of fruit or is it to perpetuate poison ? When 
God brings a drunkard to repentance, does he do it in order 
to set up a new rum shop on the man's premises, under his 
care, and so to sanctify the sale of rum by his example ? When 
God converts a Pagan, does he do it in order to bring in 
Pagan rites into his church, and to sanctify the worship of 
Pagan images ? When God chose Abraham, did he do it in 

52 god's choice of abkaiiam. 

order to set the seal of his approbation upon one of the great- 
est enormities of the idolatrous world, slavery and the slave- 
trade, in order to bring in that iniquity, and establish it in 
the household policy of his own people ? This is the argu- 
ment of those who assume that Abraham held slaves and then 
appeal to his example as being God's sanction of the crime of 
American slavery. That which, if Abraham had let it alone, 
would have been branded as a crime, would have stood in the 
annals of Sodomic and Egyptian history as a crime, by being 
taken up into Abraham's life, as a domestic example, is bap- 
tized for a virtue. This is a horrible perversion, and blasphemy 
against the justice and holiness of God. 

But we say, let the records of that household policy answer. 
They are before us, they are plain, from the time of Abraham 
downwards. If Abraham had had slaves, had bought and sold 
men as property, had grown rich in that way, his slave prop- 
erty would have been more valuable than all his other riches, 
and Isaac and Jacob would have inherited his possessions and 
his claims, and by the very law of propagation and of entail 
in slave property would have vastly accumulated it. Isaac 
would have had the whole three hundred and eighteen home- 
born, or six hundred and thirty-six of both sexes, and twelve 
hundred and seventy-two of all ages, or more than eighteen 
hundred of all classes, on his father's plantation, besides all 
the increase of hands for more than fifty years, for Abraham, 
when he died, gave all that he had unto Isaac, and fifty years 
would have increased the number, at the lowest computation, 
to some ten or twelve thousand. And the same inheritance 
descending inevitably from Isaac, and accumulating through 
the lifetime of Jacob for more than a hundred years, even if 
divided between Esau and Jacob, must have constituted a 
great multitude. It is impossible that all this slave property, 
as a sanctified domestic institution, could have vanished into 
thin air ; or if a missionary institution, Jacob would not have 
been allowed to put it up at auction, or dispose of it at a price, 


on account of the famine in Canaan. When Jacob went down 
into Egypt, we should certainly have found slaves in his house- 
hold, for he took his journey with all that he had, and there 
is great particularity in the enumeration both of souls and sub- 
stance, but not the faintest shadow of the presence of slavery 
do Ave find there, not the most distant intimation of slaves or 
slave property being a patriarchal fixture. What has become 
of the three hundred and eighteen, or the six hundred and 
thirty-six, or the twelve hundred and seventy-two, or the eigh- 
teen hundred, and their increase of many thousands, left to his 
children by their great slav eh olding grandfather? Slavery never 
dies out, but by the law of human cupidity holds on and makes 
itself more and more manifest. Abraham never sold slaves ; 
nobody accuses him of that ; and even those who assume that 
he was a slaveholder, can find no trace of any such transaction. 
What, then, became of his three hundred and eighteen, or six 
hundred and thirty-six, or twelve hundred and seventy -two, or 
eighteen hundred ? They did not descend to Isaac, they were 
not inherited by him as a property, for then also we should 
have found them in the family of Jacob, since Isaac never sold 
slaves. But all traces of them disappear, and neither in Jacob's 
family nor Esau's can we discover the least indication of slav- 
ery or slave property. 

On the contrary, the only instance of the selling and buying 
of a human being in a record of more than four hundred years 
is that of Joseph, distinctly branded by him, in describing the 
transaction, as man-stealing. And until that transaction, there 
is no positive proof of slavery existing anywhere ; so that, to 
resume our illustration of the orchard and the grafted fruit, this 
wild tree, which the advocates of slavery assume to have been 
adopted by Abraham, as a universal growth of society, is not 
certainly discovered in all that region till at least three hun- 
dred years after the calling of Abraham, and then comes up as 
a crime. If, instead of being crime, slavery had been a do- 
mestic institution, appointed of God and sanctioned as a patri- 

54 god's choice of Abraham. 

archal rigbt, we should certainly have found some trace of 
human beings held as property when the Israelites went up 
out of Egypt. 

Instead of that, we find such property forbidden, and the 
origin of it, and the traffic in it, denounced as an iniquity to 
be punished with death. We find a net- work of admirable 
legislation, woven with direct reference to the exclusion of this 
iniquity, so as to render slavery for ever impossible in the land. 
And these laws are beyond question an embodiment of the 
great principles of common law and custom that had prevailed 
since Abraham set them. They are the grand precedents of 
judgment and of justice which God declared that Abraham 
was appointed to transmit to his posterity, reduced to specific 
written forms ; the principles that had been transmitted from, 
the patriarchal life of Abraham, for otherwise the Israelites 
could not possibly have been prepared for such legislation, nor 
brought submissively under it. 

The legislation appointed of God was not that of a break- 
up in their habits, not a revolutionary legislation, but a legis- 
lation in concord with the system of morals and manners set 
in power by Abraham, and consolidated for five hundred 
years. The great idea of the sacredness of personal freedom 
was not a new unknown idea ; if it had been, no code of laws 
could have communicated it, so as to make it instantly per- 
vade the nation as a life. And, on the other hand, the des- 
potic and dreadful idea of the righteousness and sacredness 
of slave property, the justice and benevolence of buying and 
selling men as chattels, if that had been a custom and an heir- 
loom from Abraham downwards, could not have been opposed 
without disturbance, could not have quietly yielded and van- 
ished and given place to the unexampled system of freedom and 
kindness revealed through Moses. If the people had been slave- 
holders, with the example of Abraham to sanction them, and 
Moses had undertaken to put a stop to that system, and to 
strike the fetters from their slaves, he would have found a 


harder task, in some respects, than that of bringing the whole 
nation out from Egypt. But there was no such thing as slavery 
among them, and never had been. 

A system of free service there was, and of customary 
wages, and it had come down from the habits of patriarchal 
life, and the necessities of a pastoral, nomadic community. 
The contract of Jacob with Laban shows plainly the kind of 
contract that had been customary, the modes and usages of 
service. Seven years' service were not pitched upon by Jacob 
at a venture, but doubtless because the period of seven years 
was the accustomed period of apprenticeship for a servant ; 
and there are plain reasons in the nature of pastoral life why 
the contract with servants should extend over so long a period, 
or longer, if the servant and the master were so agreed. But 
longer or shorter, the service was by agreement, and for wages, 
and the contract mutual and voluntary. 

To us in modern times, in cities and villages, with a vast 
population, unsettled, changing, migratory, it seems long; 
but in the case of Abraham it would be desirable for him, 
and merciful for his dependants ; profitable and just on all 
sides. And the Jewish system of free servitude, as trans- 
mitted from Abraham, and systematized and made permanent 
in the Jewish code by Moses, under divine inspiration and 
direction, was exactly suited to those ancient times, with their 
known patriarchal habits and manners, which were fostered 
and established in the Jewish dispensation. We have the ex- 
ample of this life in its utmost beauty, purity, and perfection, 
in the pastoral book of Ruth, in which we defy the keenest 
scrutinizes, and the most fanatical believers in the divine right 
of slavery, to find the least trace of involuntary servitude. 
The same may be said of the book of Job. What a volume- 
is contained in those three verses in the thirty-first chapter of 
that wonderful book ; what a revelation of freedom and no- 
bleness ! " If I did despise the cause of my man-servant, or 
my maid-servant, when they contended with me, what then 


shall I do when God riseth up ? and when he visiteth, what 
shall I answer him ? Did not he that made me in the womb 
make him ? and did not one fashion us in the womb ?" Com- 
pare these sentiments of justice and humanity, this acknowl- 
edgment of natural equality and mutual right, this recognition 
of mutual obligation and duty, with the tone of opinion, feeling, 
and language prevailing at the South towards a race of slaves. 
Now, as a patriarch chosen of God, and appointed as the 
beginning and head of a mighty religious dispensation, it is not 
to be supposed that Abraham was less advanced in morals and 
religion, after this divine call, than Job. Wherever Abraham 
sojourned under the divine guidance, he certainly must have 
carried and maintained, as the friend and prophet of God, 
those principles to which God himself referred, when he said, 
" I know Abraham, that he will command his children and his 
household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, 
to do justice and judgment." It is not to be supposed that 
Abraham copied the institutions of the tribes around him, or 
adopted the manners and morals of the people among whom 
he journeyed, but, on the contrary, he must have had a stand- 
ard of his own, and preserved his own principles. If slaves 
were presented to him by kings, they passed out from the un- 
godly and oppressive rule under which they had been held as 
chattels, into a household under divine teachings, where they 
were regarded as human beings with rights, and not as articles 
of property. When Abraham received them, it is not to be 
imagined that he received into his household, along with them, 
the slave-code and slave-usages, or supposed them to be crea- 
tures without rights, Avhose service he could take without 
wages. Their slavery ceased the moment they became his 
servants ; and the rite of circumcision, by which they were 
all equally consecrated to God, aud adopted in the divine cov- 
enant as the objects of his care and favor, was in itself a 
most impressive seal of personal freedom and responsibility, 
and a recognition of the sacreduess of individual rights. 


Cockatrices' Eggs Laid by Lexicographers, and Hatched by Commentators.— 
Assumptions and Misrepresentations, and Consequent Prejudices and Errors. 
—Difficulty of the Dzslodgment of Old Tenant Lies.— Necessity of tueib Ex- 
orcism from Theological Literature. 

It is under the guidance of such views that we have to come 
to the consideration of the legislation in the Old Testament 
on the subject of the nature and times of domestic servitude. 
When that legislation was ordained of God, there was no such 
thing as slavery in the nation, either to he regulated or extir- 
pated. Its asserted existence is the merest imagination and 
assumption, without one particle of proof; a figment more 
groundless than that of the Blue Laws of Connecticut. They 
who assume its existence, are bound to show their authority 
in the clearest terms, for it is one of those things that can not 
be admitted without positive demonstration. But in the ab- 
sence of all evidence, the assumption of such an enormous 
system of wickedness is monstrous. 

The very assumption rests on the fastening of the word 
bondman into the divine revelation in the English version, 
when there is no such. word in the original; and on the use 
of the word slave in the lexicons and commentaries, instead 
of the word servant, which is the Hebrew word of the Scrip- 
tures, there being no word for slave in the Hebrew language. 
In the history of languages, there is hardly an instance of 
greater perversion and violence ; probably no instance of so 
vast a conclusion, with such dreadful consequences, being 
founded upon the wrong translation of a word. The iniquity 
of American slavery, with all its atrocities, builds and perpet- 


uates itself upon the sanction thus pirated for it in the word of 
God. The lexicographers, translators and commentators have 
acted as borers for the slaveholding interest, and have laid 
the eggs of this sin in the hark of the word, where its mon- 
strous developments are defended as the legitimate product 
of God's righteous sovereignty. As was said of old, " None 
calleth for justice, nor pleadeth for truth ; they trust in vanity 
and speak lies ; they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity. 
They hatch cockatrices' eggs, and weave the spider's web ; he 
that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed 
breaketh out into a viper." 

Without the slightest examination of the original, without 
a question as to the justice or injustice of slavery, its incon- 
sistency with the benevolence commanded in the Scriptures, 
apparently with not a thought as to the bearing of its sanc- 
tion upon the character and claims of a divine revelation, or 
its manner of representing the attributes of God, the great 
tide of commentators and of readers has swept on. Some of 
the best writers have, in one sentence, adopted the common 
representation of the existence of slaves and slavery in Judea, 
and in the next given such details of that slavery, so called, as 
proved that there was nothing of slavery in it, and that this 
term could not, without a sweeping falsehood, be applied to it. 

As an instance of such singular carelessness, we may take 
the admirable work of Dean Graves on the Pentateuch (espe- 
cially the third Lecture, Part II., on the Moral Principles of 
the Jewish Law), in which the iniquity and abominations of 
modern slavery and of the slave trade are denounced as " an 
aggravated guilt publicly known and nationally tolerated, so 
as to fill the minds of the pious and reflecting Avith the most 
alarming expectation that the signal judgments of God will 
awfully chastise such depravity." The writer says, speaking 
of the justice of the death penalty, "On this subject it is 
necessary to observe, that as liberty is equally valuable icith 
life, the Jewish law, with the strictest equity, ordained that 


if any man were convicted of attempting to reduce any fellow- 
citizen to slavery, he should be punished with death." Part 
ii., Lect. iii., p. 154. Yet in the very same lecture he applies 
the word slave to the Jewish servant, and remarks that " the 
penal code of the Jews guarded the person of the servant 
and the slave, as well as of the freeman ; the injunction, 
' Whosoever smiteth a man that he die, shall surely be put to 
death,' equally protected all." "The chastity of female 
slaves was guarded by strict regulations, and no Jew could 
be a slave for longer than seven years." Again, " Compare 
the Mosaic regulations respecting female slaves with the 
universal and abominable licentiousness which polluted every 
ancient nation in their intercourse with slaves." 

Here the Hebrew servant, making a contract of service for 
six years, is called a slave, and female slaves are spoken of as if 
such a class really existed, at the same time that the very fact 
of the limitation of service to six years, and the law of free- 
dom when such service has expired, demonstrate that such a 
servant was in no sense a slave, and such service in no sense 
slavery! And with the admitted and applauded fact that 
God denounced the bringing of any person into slavery, as a 
crime to be punished with death, yet is slavery spoken of as 
one of the institutions of the Mosaic law, and, of course, an 
•nstitution appointed and established of Jehovah ! That very 
condition, into which, if one man were found reducing another, 
he should be put to death, is nevertheless represented as being 
a condition of domestic society, not merely permitted, but 
made, by the divine will, an integral and essential fixture of 
the social life ! 

A still more remarkable instance occurs in Jahn's Biblical 
Archaeology, where the writer gravely affirms, in the 169th 
section of his work, which he has entitled Respecting Slaves, 
that "it is probable that some of the patriarchs, as was some- 
times the case at a later period, with individuals in Greece and 
Italy, possessed many thousands of them !" Again, he makes 


the following astounding declaration : " The Canaanites could 
not be held in slavery. For them, under the then existing 
circumstances, slavery icas regarded as too great a privilege /" 
He then proceeds to enumerate some of the ways in which 
men might find themselves endowed with this same privilege ! 
And so the march of misrepresentation and mistake has 
continued.* And such has been the indifference and fatuity 
of the world, such the carelessness of commentators, ready to 
echo one another's opinions without examination, and such the 
power of long-continued prejudice, that the very apparatus of 
study, except only the original sacred text itself, has been 
tortured and discolored, so as to throw false lights upon the 
subject, and set things in a false position. It is just like hav- 
ing your tables of logarithms falsified, or the glasses of your 
telescope misplaced, confounded, or the screws of your com- 
pound microscope reversed, or your chemical tests wrongly 
labeled. Under the deception produced by such undiscov- 
ered and unquestioned tricks, some of the ablest commenta- 
tors on the laws of Moses have gravely considered slavery as 
an unquestioned and indisputable fact, not less certain than 
the existence of leviathan. The lexicons have translated the 
word servant by the word slave. The phrase buying a serv- 

* See, for other examples, " Illus- servants 'were manifestly of this 

trated Commentary on the Holy Bi- description." 

ble," London: 1840, vol. i., page 32. There can be no excuse for such 

Also, the comment on Gen., chapter extravagant ignorance or falsehood. 

xv. The writer makes the monstrous In an interpreter of the word of God 

declaration that " the word translated the carelessness of such assertions 

servant generally denotes what wo becomes worse than careless, when 

should call a slave." lie then goes on to the subject is of so solemn a weight 

say that the mass of the servants men- and importance as that of the judg- 

tioncd in the Scripture history were mont in the word of God in regard to 

absolute and perpetual slaves. They slavery. Under such teaching, no 

and their progeny were regarded as form or prevalence of error could bo 

completely the property of their mas- surprising. It is a demoniac posses- 

ters, who could exchange or sell them sion that must be exorcised, or wher- 

at pleasure, could inflict what pnnish- ever it remains it excludes the truth, 

ments they pleased, and even in some and foams and rages against it. 
cases put them to death. Abraham's 



ant has been set in our language, without any indication of 
its Hebrew usage, just as if it meant the traffic in human 
beings as property. Learned and able archaeologists, and 
writers of introductions, have prepared and printed whole 
sections on the treatment of Hebrew slaves, and have adduced 
passages as proof-texts, which, rightly examined and inter- 
preted, prove that no such thing as slavery was permitted.* 

These errors and pi'ejudices were begun at a time when, in 
England, and all over the world, not only slavery, but even 
the African slave trade, was sustained and practiced without 
scruple, even by Christians ; so that there was nothing in the 
assertion of slavery being sanctioned, or even enjoined of 

* Home's Introduction, vol. iii., page 
419: The most singular concatenation 
of examples of such heedless mistakes, 
is to be found in the fifth chapter of 
the fourth part of the third volume 
of this work. Assertions are made, 
and texts referred to, as if in proof of 
them, which, on examination, refute 
the assertions. See, for instance, the 
note on Deut. xv. 18. The word 
slave is heedlessly applied to persons 
at voluntary service, and perfectly 
free. By such inaccurate use of 
terms, reverberated from writer to 
writer, there has come to be an accu- 
mulation of apparent authorities for 
the opinion that slavery was estab- 
lished under God's sanction. The 
Hebrew servants are called slaves, and 
by the same process, historians and 
commentators on the domestic lifo 
and customs of the free States, could 
prove incontrovertibly that chattel 
slavery was a domestic institution, 
universally established among them. 

Bonar on Leviticus, pages 444 and 
463, speaks with the same unfortu- 
nate carelessness of " every Hebrew 
slave," and at the same moment of 
the freedom to " leave his servitude ;" 

the latter qualification rendering the 
former condition an impossibility, 
though the inconsistency does not 
seem to have once occurred to the 
mind of the writer. 

The manner in which opinion has 
been manufactured and sustained is 
exemplified in assertions such as the 
following: "The Lord wished to 
punish the Canaanites and other hea- 
then nations, because of their hea- 
thenism ; and of course the Lord has 
a right so to do. His decree, there- 
fore is this : that heathens shall be ex- 
posed to bondage, and Israel shall 
take them as their slaves." 

If this had been true, the punish- 
ment, in such a case, would have 
been a reward, for the slavery was 
freedom into which they passed ; and 
the curse inflicted was their elevation 
to all the religious and civil privileges 
of God's own chosen people! Sin- 
gular enough to see a writer declar- 
ing that God cursed and punished 
the heathen for their heathenism, by 
adopting them into his own church, 
and bestowing franchises upon them, 
of which, in their heathen condition, 
they knew nothing I 


God, so startling or incredible, as to induce an examination 
of the Scriptures in regard to it. The great Hebrew lexi- 
cographer, Gesenius, probably never gave it a thought, and 
hardly had occasion to mark any distinction between a serv- 
ant and a slave, as to the question of any morality or im- 
morality in the relation. 

In consequence of all this, we come to the Bible argument 
under great disadvantages. Long defended titles to opinion, 
supposed incontestable, have to be contested, and decisions 
based upon misinterpretations have to be set aside, and prece- 
dents established by men of great authority have to be resist- 
ed. We have not only to prove property, but to disprove false 
claims. We have to bring expensive actions for ejectment be- 
fore we can take possession of our own. By a species of squat- 
ter sovereignty, the advocates of slavery have settled down in 
the Scriptures, as the Scribes and Pharisees did in Moses' seat, 
with their traditions, under the authority of father Abraham ; 
and possession being nine tenths of the law, it takes nine times 
as much argument and conscience to dislodge, as it did confi- 
dence and ignorance to squat. 

Even if there had been such a thing as slavery among the 
Hebrews, God's allowance of it among them would have been 
no justification of American slavery, no more than Noah's plant- 
ing a vineyard would justify our getting drunk on cider-brandy. 
'Even supposing God to have admitted, for a season, a degree 
of slavery, under laws for its regulation and abolition, suppos- 
ing the Hebrews to have held slaves by permission, this could 
be no justification for an American slaveholder retaining the 
African race in bondage, or holding any human being as pi-op- 
erty. To plead Hebrew slavery in excuse or authority for 
American, is just to act like a rumseller'in one of the cities of 
Scotland, convicted of selling bad liquors ; but he alleged in 
defense of the practice the fact stated in the second chapter 
of John, verse tenth, Every man at the beginning doth set forth 
good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which 


is worse ; but thou hast kept the good wine until now. He 
said, they must have used up a great deal of had wine in this 
process, and our Lord Jesus said not one word in condemna- 
tion of it to the bridegroom ; and it was altogether as proper 
for him to provide bad spirits for his customers as it was for that 
family to provide it for their guests. That is just the amount 
of the whole alleged Bible argument in regard to slavery, 
namely, that if the Hebrews, at God's command, or under his 
revealed permission, could enslave the heathen, then the Amer- 
icans, without God's permission or command, have the same 
right to enslave Africans ; an attempted justification so weak, 
so worthless, so unprincipled and hypocritical, that it is hardly 
fit for a sober notice. 

It is a reproach to the word of God to admit for a moment 
that a thing so unjust and full of evil has any existence or 
sanction whatever in it. An<J it has not. And on this ground 
we stand. "We affirm that at the very outset of the Hebrew 
legislation there was no such thing as slavery among the He- 
brews to be regulated. Not one text can be brought to prove 
its existence, nor any intimation that it was any way in prac- 
tice when God revealed the Hebrew code of laws to Moses. 
The whole spirit of the Bible, from beginning to end, is against 
it. The first legislation in regard to domestic servitude was 
for freedom, not slavery ; it was to guard against slavery, and 
prevent the possibility of its coming in from abroad. 

God himself referred to that great fact in the announcement 
of his last vengeance on the kingdom and people for their at- 
tempt to set up slavery instead of liberty ; for that was just 
the essence of their crime. I made a covenant of liberty in 
the day that I brought your fathers out of Egypt, out of the 
house of bondage, liberty every man to his neighbor. The 
covenant so made, so established, and so referred to, was of 
freedom against slavery, not in toleration or regulation of it. 
The nation was about to enter on a series of conquests, and to 
be brought in contact with other nations, where slavery might 


be found pi'evailing, and where temptations would arise to 
practice and establish the iniquity themselves, and under those 
circumstances, in preparation for future junctures, such admi- 
rable laws were passed, as rendered slavery and the slave 
traffic, either domestic or foreign, either of Hebrews or hea- 
then, impossible. If those laws were obeyed, then, under 
God's old covenant, as well as new, "such a crime as that of 
holding men as property, or maintaining the claim of property 
in man, was impossible. 

There are volumes of commentaries, from which it may be 
plainly seen what blindness and insensibility have rested even 
on the church of God in regard to this subject, and what ex- 
travagances, yea, what madnesses of opinion, and complica- 
tions of falsehood, have grown out of such stupidity and ignor- 
ance, what monstrosities even good men have gravely and 
calmly swallowed, what doctrines, as bad as the vilest immo- 
ralities of the Hindoo or heathen mythology, have been ac- 
cepted as parts of divine revelation. As a remarkable instance, 
we may refer to the Rev. Dr. Pyle's paraphrastic commentary 
on the Scriptures, published at London in several volumes in 
1717. In the first volume, in the commentary on the twenty- 
first chapter of Exodus, taking it for granted that the system 
of slavery was an established institution of the state, and, as a 
domestic institution, committed of God to the fostering care 
of the government and the magistrates, for its perpetuity by 
natural increase, the author thus explains the fourth verse in 
regard to the Hebrew servant's family relations. " If a wife," 
says he, " were procured him by his master, or appointed him 
by the magistrates that sold him, only to breed slaves by, then, 
if he leaves his service, he shall leave the wife and children, as 
the master's proper goods and possessions /" Could there be 
a manifestation of more profound insensibility, darkness, and 
consequent perversion of the moral sense, than this ? 

It is difficult to conceive how a Christian man, a minister of 
the gospel, certainly not ignorant of the first and lowest laws 


and principles of justice and of moral purity, could put such a 
monstrosity as this in writing, as part of a divine revelation for 
the teaching of virtue, benevolence, and. piety. How any man 
could deliberately affirm that such a diabolical state of society 
as this enactment would constitute was sanctioned of Heaven, 
was px*otected, authorized, commanded by a holy God, passes 
our comprehension; how he could suppose that other men, 
with an enlightened moral sense, could receive such enact- 
ments of impurity and cruelty as the dictates and records of 
divine inspiration, worthy of a solemn commentary, is equally 
amazing. But, with a theological literature baptized in such 
opinions, the tenacity and despotism are not strange, with 
which the supposition of there being some sanction of slavery 
in the Scriptures has knotted itself upon the general mind, has 
become rooted and grounded as a common principle, an axiom, 
a root of bitterness and error, a possession, indeed, by the 
father of lies, and the murderer from the beginning. 

Is it any wonder that under such teachings, and from a bap- 
tism with such habits of thinking, and such doctrines of devils, 
as the supposed water of life, a man like John Newton should 
have been enabled even to continue in the slave trade for some 
time after his conversion, without any compunction, any mis- 
giving, any discovery or sense of its injustice, its sinfulness 
against God? We have the same insensibility to contend 
against now, and the same difficulty to persuade men to go 
back of the fact of present lawful possession, and inquire if 
the original guilt of man-stealing does not, by the divine law, 
as well as by common justice, inhere in the very claims of a 
present property in man, as that same crime. We have to cut 
down a whole forest of lies before we can open a pathway to 
the truth. It is therefore essential that we take slavery and 
the slaveholder, and carry both the sin and its abettors back to 
its reprobated origin, and set them under the judgment of the 
word of God. 


Examination op Enactments. — Exodus, xxi. 2-6, and xx. 21. — Perversion op tiie 
Meaning of these Passages. — All Contracts Voluntary. — Purchase or Ser- 
vices, not Persons. — Meaning op the Phrase, He ;a his Monet. 

"Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before 
them. If thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve, 
and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he 
came in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he were 
married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master 
have given him a wife, and she have borne him sons or daugh- 
ters, the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he 
shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, 
I love my master, my wife, and my children ; I will not go out 
free ; then his master shall bring him unto the judges ; he shall 
also bring him to the door, or unto the door post ; and his 
master shall bore his ear through with an awl ; and he shall 
serve him for ever." Exodus, xxi. 1-6. 

If we should take the first clause in this body of enactments, 
and connect it with the last, thus, If thou buy a Hebrew ser- 
vant, his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and 
he shall serve him for ever ; it would be no unfair example of 
the torture by which it is attempted to pervert Scripture, and 
sanctify slavery from the word of God. In the first place, there 
is the phrase, If thou buy ; in the second place, there is the 
phrase, He shall serve him for ever. "What phrases in the En- 
glish language could describe slavery, it might be asked, if 
these do not ? 

But a candid and careful reader, even of the English alone, 


on reading only the first verse in this series of enactments in 
regard to domestic service, would, see at once the falsehood of 
any conclusion of property as the meaning of the word buy / 
for this buying is only a contract of service for six years ; six 
years shall he serve, and in the seventh he shall go out free for 

In the second place, he would see the impossibility of prop- 
erty, from the fact of its being a voluntary contract between 
two persons, equal parties in the contract, and not with refer- 
ence to a third person. The bargain for a slave is the purchase 
from a third person, while the person bought stands by as a 
chattel, a thing, to be disposed of with no more consultation 
of himself than if he were a wheelbarrow. There is no such 
traffic as this admitted in the Scriptures. Such buying and 
selling is forbidden as man-stealing, to be punished with death ; 
and such buying and selling is the great sin of our country, 
against God and man. There is never a case of the purchase 
of a servant from a third person, as a piece of property is 
purchased; but only the service of the servant, for a limited, 
specified time, was purchased, and always from himself, the sole 

In the third place, the contract, in the words, he shall serve 
him for ever, is equally demonstrated to be a purely voluntary 
contract, and for a limited, specified time, and no longer. But 
how do you prove this, when the language is unlimited, for 
ever? Simply by the institution of the jubilee. At the re- 
currence of each fiftieth year liberty was proclaimed through- 
out all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof Consequently, 
by that known institution it is incontrovertible that the words, 
he shall serve him for ever, mean only he shall serve him to the 
longest period remaining for any service between that time of 
the contract and the next coming year of jubilee. 

Just so Avith that passage in Leviticus, xxv. 45, 46, which 
the defenders of slavery are accustomed so triumphantly to 
fling in the face of those who demonstrate its inherent, eter- 


nal and immutable 'wickedness. "Moreover, of the children 
of the stranger that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye 
buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat 
in your land ; and they shall be your possession. And ye shall 
take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to in- 
herit a possession ; they shall be your bondmen for ever." This 
the defender of slavery avers to be proof positive of perpetual 
bondage; and if he can but succeed in making his hearer ignore, 
or exclude from court, the corresponding and explanatory pas- 
sages, if he can prevent him from going behind the English 
phrases, and showing what is meant, if he can persuade him 
into a judgment, without investigation of the merits of the 
case, he can prove the existence of slavery to the satisfaction 
of any man who is willing to darken his conscience and handle 
the word of God deceitfully, that he may indulge his sins in 

But the same investigation pursued as with the other pas- 
sage, dissipates the darkness, removes every vestige of invol- 
untary bondage, and leaves no manner of doubt as to the 
buying being simply a voluntary contract between two parties 
of service for a limited and perfectly definite time, guarded by 
the jubilee itself from all possibility of perpetuity. The inves- 
tigation proves that the buying of servants among the children 
and families of the heathen sojourning in the land no more 
meant slavery for them, than it did for the Hebrews. The He- 
brews were no more permitted to make slaves of them, than 
they of the Hebrews. The word for servant is the same. The 
process of obtaining servants is the same. The heathen were 
perfectly free to serve or not serve, to go or stay ; and if they 
were able, they had the same right to buy Hebrews, if the 
Hebrews were willing to enter their service, that the Hebrews 
had to buy them. Again and again one manner of law was 
commanded both for the heathen and the Hebrews. " Love 
ye therefore the stranger, for ye were strangers in the land of 
Egypt. Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, 


nor of the fatherless, but thou shalt remember that thou wast 
a bondman in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee 
thence ; therefore I command thee to do this thing. Thou 
shalt not oppress the stranger. And if a stranger sojourn 
with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stran- 
ger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born 
among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself, for ye were 
strangers in the land of Egypt." 

Thou shalt love him as thyself. By the interpretation of 
those who seek to falsify the word of God for a sanction of 
the wickedness of slavery, this means, Thou shalt thrust him 
into a worse bondage than ever thou thyself didst endure in 
Egypt. Thou shalt take all his rights from him, thou shalt 
buy and sell him* as a camel, or a camel's furniture ; thou shalt 
make a mere chattel of him. Thou shalt range up and down 
the land, as a tyrant over him, with him for thy lawful prop- 
erty and possession. Thou shalt lay thy grasp upon his chil- 
dren whenever and wherever it pleases thee, and buy and sell 
them, for the slaves of thy children to the latest generation. 
Thou art delivered and appointed to exercise this cruelty 
upon the heathen, and to set an example of God's benevolence 
and righteousness in these abominations in the sight of all the 

If such blasphemy were credited, how could it do other- 
wise than make infidels out of all honest men, for who could 
accept such immoral horrors as the stuff of a divine revelation ? 
It could be only a satanic, selfish exultation, that could take 
delight in the discovery of such sanction of sin, and a dishon- 
esty equally satanic that could make a man boast of such 
sanction, as a proof, satisfactory to his mind, that the book 
containing it came from a holy, just, and righteous God. Yet 
there is such wickedness among men. It is described in the 
fiftieth Psalm : " Thou thoughtest that I was altogether 
such an one as thyself. When thou sawest a thief, then thou 


consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. 
What hast thou to do to declare my name ?" 
. Just so, again, with the passage in Exodus, xx. 20, 21 : "If 
a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die 
under his hand, he shall surely be punished. Notwithstand- 
ing, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished, for 
he is his money." What can be greater proof of property in 
man than this ? exclaims the slaveholder ; for he is his money. 
But now if you look back to the second verse, and trace the 
context, you find it is purchased voluntary service that is 
spoken of, and nothing else. It is the service of the Hebrew, 
who could not possibly be a slave, or be bought or sold as 
property ; but that limited service being bought and paid for 
beforehand, for six years, the man from whom it is owing is 
described as the master's money, because he had invested 
money for his services in hiring him for six years ; and it is 
argued that he being worth so much to his master, for a ser- 
vice contracted and paid for, that master could not be sup- 
posed to have intended to kill him ; and therefore, though it 
would be proper to punish his cruelty, yet not to punish him 
for murder, a crime which he did not intend to commit. The 
presumption that he did not, is founded on the supposition 
that he could not have intended to throw away his own 
money, which he would have done, in killing him, as truly as 
if he had thrown it into the Jordan or the Dead Sea. If he 
had intended to kill him, he would have done it at once ; if such 
were his object and his malice, he would have murdered him 
on the spot, and would have been put to death for it. But 
the continuance of the smitten servant for a season, affords a 
second presumption that the killing was unintentional. Such 
presumptions not unfrequently shield a criminal, justly, from 
the highest penalty of the law, because they present to the 
jury a doubt, which must go in favor of the prisoner. When 
it is said, he shall not be punished, it can hardly be supposed 
to mean that no punishment shall be inflicted at all, but 


simply that he shall not be avenged with the blood-vengeance 
by the avenger, but with some lesser penalty. The case in 
the verses next preceding is similar, and throws still more 
light upon the matter. "If men strive together, and one 
smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, 
but keepeth his bed ; if he rise again, and walk abroad upon 
his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit ; only he shall 
pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thor- 
oughly healed." 

Not only does the enactment under consideration prove that 
the transaction of buying, so called in our English translation, 
excluded the possibility of property in man, but it inciden- 
tally brings out what will be more definitely noted, the sacred- 
ness of marriage among servants as among masters. There 
could be no sepai'ation of husband and wife. Husbands, love 
your wives ; wives, obey your husbands ; were privileges, 
duties, obligations, as inviolable for servants as for masters. 
The marriage tie alone, with the domestic constitution grow- 
ing out of it, was a shield and sanctity of independence and 
freedom for servants, that rendered the degradation of them 
into slaves, and the claim of property in man over them, im- 
possible. This, of itself, demonstrates the crime and guilt of 
American slaveholding. The slaveholder is hunted in the 
word of God by principles and texts surer than his own blood- 
hounds ; nothing in Divine revelation but holds him, in the 
guilt of his claim of property in his fellow-man, to an inexor- 
able retribution. 

The passages sometimes adduced in support or sanction of 
men's wickedness prove the very opposite, and cut the pre- 
sumptuous, audacious sinner to the heart. The word of God, 
in the hands of these daring, but awkward ignoramuses, is 
like a South American boomerang. They think they have 
seized a great passage for their purpose, and are shying it 
away at their adversaries; and at first it goes this way, then 
that, then seems as if it were making straight for the target, 


when, in the most astounding manner, by an involution of 
eccentric hidden law and power of right motion, it comes 
back upon themselves. The man who thought he was going 
to prostrate his opponent with it is knocked down by it. 
"When a great piratical sinner, or captain of one of Satan's 
men-of-war, undertakes to grapple upon his intended victim a 
coil of perverted Scriptures, it sometimes runs out almost 
as quick as lightning, and carries hirnlelf overboard before he 
is aware of the entanglement, or can get his legs out of the 
knot. It is a pithy proverb, Give rope to a villain, and he '11 
hang himself. He doubles and twists the noose for others, 
and holds the rope ready for the body of his victim ; but sud- 
denly and unexpectedly the noose is knotted about his own 
neck, and at the nearest gallows tree of God's providence the 
fool is swinging in the air, till his bones rattle and bleach for 
a universal warning. 

So men are holden by the cords of their own'sins, and their 
own snares entrap them. There is the same fatality in a 
wicked state policy, only this takes a broader sweep, and the 
principles of an immoral expediency close upon their authors 
as the lid of a great sepulcher. The wicked precedents and 
laws run on for a while in great seeming prosperity, but at 
length they come round face to face in conflict, as great glar- 
ing hyenas, with the victim of their rage right between them, 
the nation and the church that set them on fire, and sanctified 
them, to be devoured by them. " Wo to thee that spoilest, 
and thou Avast not spoiled ; when thou hast done spoiling, 
then they shall spoil thee." Like Daniel's lions, when the au- 
thors of such wickedness are given up to its operation, their 
own agents will break all their bones in pieces before even 
they have reached the bottom of their own den of villainy. 


Idioms of Buying and Selling in the Case of Hebrew Servants.— Demonstra- 
tion of Their Meaning. — The Same as to Heathen Servants. — Families of 
Servants.— Eights of Husband, Father, Mother, Children. — The Contract 
before Judges. 

We proceed with the analysis of the ground-passage in the 
system of enactments in Exodus, xxi. 2-6, both for develop- 
ment of the argument, and removal of objections. 

The very first command limited the ordinary term of serv- 
ice to six years, but, at the same time, made an enlarged term 
optional as a matter of choice and agreement, solemnly entered 
into before judges. We pi-oceed to draw out the argument 
from this first stand-point, and it carries us nearly over the 
whole ground. If thou buy a Hebrew servant. The first 
question arising is this : From whom is the purchase made ? 
If from a third party, considered as an owner, this would go 
far to prove the existence of some kind of slavery. This, 
then, is a matter of the very first importance. But a second 
question arises, as to the nature of the purchase, the determi- 
nation of which goes far to settle the first question, and is 
likewise of the highest importance. .Is the buying which is 
here brought to light a transfer of ownership, such as we are 
accustomed to indicate by the terms buying and selling, or is 
there a peculiarity in the usage of the Hebrew term, which 
can not be conveyed by our word buy, but on the contrary a 
xcrong meaning is conveyed ? The closest examination of the 
Hebrew usage, along with the known tenure of the service in 
question, proves that the word does not mean to purchase as 
an article of property, the idea of property in a person not 


being comprehended in the transaction, nor admissible. The 
word in the original is the same which is used when it is said 
that the prophet Ilosea bought his wife, not, certainly, of any 
third party who owned her — for in this astonishing instance 
she was under no man's authority or power — but of herself, by 
agreement with herself. Just so, Boaz bought Ruth, certainly 
not of any third party, nor as an article of property. So in 
Ecclesiastes, ii. 7, U I got mo servants and handmaids," the 
same word translated in the case before us, buy, but meaning 
simply I obtained, with precisely the same signification as 
when we say, I have got me a good cook or a good chamber- 
maid, or, I have obtained an excellent servant. If a gentle- 
man in this country should hire a coachman, agreeing to keep 
him for six years, and he, on his part, to stay for six years, he 
might just as properly be said to have purchased his coach- 
man as any Hebi'ew gentleman to have bought his servant. 
This word, then, does not mean traffic, as of an article of prop- 
erty, but indicates a bargain, free and voluntary on both 
sides ; a bargain between two, and not the transfer of a 
chattel from the ownership of one person to the ownership 
of another person as his property. 

This, then, of itself, goes far to determine the first question 
in regard to buying a Hebrew servant, namely, of whom? 
The answer is, not of any third party, but of himself, develop- 
ing this grand peculiarity in the phraseology used as to obtain- 
ing servants, that the person hiring himself as a servant is de- 
scribed in Hebrew idiom, in relation to the person engaging 
his services, as selling himself, and himself receiving the pur- 
chase money. He simply sells his services for so long a time, 
but the Hebrew idiom takes the Niphal form of the verb to 
sell, and describes him as selling himself, though he is as truly 
a freeman, and as far from being a slave, or an article of prop- 
erty, as ever. And the person obtaining his services, and pay- 
ing for them, is said to purchase him of himself, not of any 
owner or master to whom he belongs, for he belongs to him- 


self, and is perfectly free to hire himself or not to whomsoever 
he pleases. 

This idiom and meaning are proved, 1st, from the similar 
usage of the terms in other transactions, as we have seen ; 
2d, from comparison with Leviticus, xxv. 39, 47, where the 
case is supposed of a free Hebrew getting poor, and, as our 
translation has it, being sold, that is, in the original, selling 
himself unto thee. Of course, being a freeman, no third party 
could sell, or has any power over him, aud yet this case is one 
in which an ordinary reader, from the very necessity growing 
out of the form of the translation (be sold unto thee), would 
suppose a sale from a third party. The second case is of a 
Hebrew in like manner falling poor, and going into service, in 
consequence, in the family of a heathen, a stranger, and the 
same expression precisely in the original is used to describe 
the contract, but in this case it is translated sell himself unto 
the stranger — no third party intimated. 

3d. A third proof demonstrative of the idiom and mean- 
ing, as excluding any third party, is the prescribed time of the 
contract, six years, no more, no less. These six years in the 
man's life nobody owned, nobody was the master of, but him- 
self. He only could sell them. The bargain for his services 
was made with himself, not with any third party. Yet he is 
described as being sold, and the man who engages his services 
is described as buying him. 

4th. The same demonstration is renewed in the fact that 
his master, at the end of six years, if he enters into a new and 
longer contract for his services, has to buy them over again 
of himself, not of any other person ; no third party comes in, 
nor does the master gain any right of possession by the fact 
of six years' previous service. The servant is as free to enter 
into a new contract as the master. 

This matter being settled, the question comes up, whether 
the same idiom prevailed as to the obtaining of heathen serv- 
ants, and it is proved that it did. If thou buy a heathen serv- 


atit, would mean precisely the same, as to the parties and the 
purchase, as in the case of the Hebrew servant. But inas- 
much as nothing is here specified in regard to any other than 
Hebrew servants, it might have been argued that there was 
no allowance of heathen servants at all among the Hebrews, 
because every part of this domestic arrangement was so care- 
fully ordered by law. Accordingly, the legal provision was 
inserted, and the terms on which the heathen might be ob- 
tained for servants were explicitly settled. And the phrase- 
ology employed in regard to them, as to .buying them, and as 
to their selling themselves, has precisely the same meaning, 
and no signification of slavery in it. In their case, there could 
no more be the buying of servants of a third party than in 
the case of the Hebrews. There were express provisions 
against such an enormity, of which provisions the great fugi- 
tive slave law in behalf of servants, not of masters, constituted 
one ; which law, if we apply it exclusively to the heathen, as some 
contend, made the slavery of the heathen absolutely impossi- 
ble, bringing it to an end the moment they touched the He- 
brew soil. For, by that fugitive law, any heathen slave was at 
liberty to renounce* the service of his master at any moment, 
and betake himself to the Hebrews for protection, and every 
Hebrew was bound to protect his freedom. So far, therefore, 
were the Hebrews from the wholesale privilege of making 
slaves of the heathen, or buying them as slaves, that they were 
by law compelled to receive and shelter as free, and to pre- 
serve and defend from oppression, every heathen slave who 
preferred freedom. No heathen could be obtained - by any He- 
brew as a servant without his own consent, without a free 
contract entered into, and the time specified and the wages 

Now, then, a third point is this very point of the length of 
time. "If thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years shall he 
serve /" but there may be a longer period of service, if he 
chooses to engage for it, and if the master agrees to it also on 


his part. And this longer period Avas also carefully and strictly 
defined, and the perfect freedom of the servant at the close of 
it provided for, whether Hebrew or heathen. In the case of 
both there was the greatest care in law to prevent the possi- 
bility of any limited contract of service, however long, pass- 
ing into a claim of property in person. All contracts must be 
fulfilled, both of men-servants and maid-servants. A Hebrew 
master might have a household of both, and if a man-servant 
should marry a maid-servant, and wish to leave the master's 
service before his wife's contract with the master had expired, 
he would have no right to take her away with him, though she 
would have the right to leave as soon as her time of service 
also was up. 

But suppose the man-servant in such a case should say that 
he desired to enter into a new and longer contract with his 
master, so that he and his wife might still remain in his serv- 
ice ; he was at liberty to do this, and the master was com- 
pelled to consent, but the new contract must be until the 
jubilee, however distant that might be ; and it might be ten, 
twenty, thirty, or even forty years, according as the servant 
was hired at the beginning or towards the close of the jubilee 
period. A wife was paid for in those days just as Jacob bought 
his wife of Laban, with seven years' service, and Rachel with 
seven other years. But yet the language used is that of giving 
on the part of Laban, not selling. " I will give her to thee. 
And he gave him Rachel." Just so in the case before us in 
Exodus, the statute having perhaps been formed with reference 
to this very example. "If his master have given him a wife, 
and she have borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her 
children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself." 
Exodus, xxi. 4. 

But who does not see that if we were restricted to these 
words ; if we were not permitted to go behind them, and in- 
quire on what usages they are founded, and what mutual 
rights and relations of the parties they explained ; if we were 


shut up to these words alone, as to a legal writ, back of which 
we could not inquire, the enactment and procedure would 
look very arbitrary, would seem cruel and oppressive, if we 
had to give an opinion without examination of the other side ? 
If a slaveholder could take this passage and some others, and 
fling them in our faces, restricting us from inquiring what they 
mean, what witnesses they can bring as to their meaning, just 
as he can prevent his slaves from testifying against any cruel- 
ties, however horrible, of white men, then he might say, as 
he can of his own wicked statutes, these are my justification 
for holding immortal beings as property, and you are not per- 
mitted to go behind these extracted verses to learn from the 
context what they really mean, or to gain that explanation 
which the word of God itself affords in regard to them. 

In those days of early simplicity and nobleness, a man seek- 
ing a wife was not hunting for a fortune ; he sought his wife, 
if he followed Jacob and Boaz's example, out of love; he 
considered his wife herself as his fortune, and was willing to 
give a large dowry for her, instead of demanding a dowry 
with her. The matches in the Bible are love matches, and 
Jacob's courtship was a courtship of seven years' service to the 
father of the damsel. And the father is sometimes described 
as selling his daughter, as in the very chapter before us, when 
he gave her iu betrothal to her future husband, but certainly 
without the most distant shadow of that io-nominious meaning 
which we justly attach to the infamous transaction, not un- 
common in American slavery, of a man selling his own daugh- 
ter for gain. But more generally the father is described 
as giving his daughter, even while the husband is described 
as buying her. Just so, in the case before us in Exodus, the 
statute having perhaps been framed with reference to the very 
example of Laban with Jacob and Rachel. And the moment 
we find that the dowry a man was expected to pay for a wife 
amounted, in the case of a laborer like Jacob, to seven years' 
steady and faithful apprenticeship and service, then we see 


that the master making such a grant, such a contract of mar- 
riage with his servant, has a claim for the payment from him. 
If it was right for Laban, it was right for any master ; if it 
was a just rule for Jacob, it was just for any servant. 

And as he could not take his wife and children away without 
having paid the just dowry, so neither would the law allow him 
to take the children from their mother, but they must remain 
with her. Under these circumstances the servant might at 
once engage with his master for the long term of service, and 
the covenant had to be ratified before judges in the most 
solemn manner, for the protection of the rights of either 
party, and for security on all sides against oppression and 
fraud. The service money in these contracts would seem, 
from some very plain indications, to have been paid before- 
hand, or a great part of it ; and hence the necessity of a con- 
tract before judges, and also the precaution of boring the 
servant's ear, to constitute a proof positive of his obligations, 
if at any time he should undertake to deny them, and to 
cheat his master out of the service he still owed to him. But 
every thing was voluntary on either side. 

Now the contract for this longest period of service ever 
allowed is expressly described as a contract for ever ; he shall 
serve him, for ever. Yet it is demonstrated to have been only 
till the jubilee ; for at that time, in the great recurring fiftieth 
year, by the central, fundamental, governing law, to which all 
contracts of business, of possessions, and of service were 
subordinate and amenable, every inhabitant of the land was 
free, and all arrangements of hiring and paying were calculated 
with reference to that time and that event, when every pre- 
vious engagement came to an end. The conclusive proof of 
this is in Leviticus, xxv. 47-54 and 39-41 : " He shall serve 
thee unto the year of jubilee, and then shall he depart from 
thee, both he and his children with him." The term for 
ever, applied to domestic service, is necessarily restricted in 
its meaning ; at any rate, it can not refer to eternity. The 


limits of the restriction have therefore to be sought and ex- 
plained from known circumstances. Under the law of jubilee 
it was perfectly plain, and could not be extended. It could 
not mean perpetual servitude, nor through the lifetime, be- 
cause the time at which the contract was made might have 
been only ten years, or less or more, before the recurrence 
of the jubilee, and then, by the great controlling law, men- 
servants, maid-servants, and children all went out free. 

This term for ever, thus applied to the contract with Hebrew 
servants, being thus indisputably demonstrated and confessed 
to mean only to the jubilee, is in the same way demonstrated 
to mean the same thing, to be under the same restriction, when 
applied to the contract with heathen servants. They also 
might in like manner be bound by the for ever contract, but, 
in like manner, also, and by the same limitations, it came to 
its close for them at the jubilee. They too might be engaged 
for the shorter or for the longer period, but it was just as vol- 
untary with them as with the Hebrews, and optional to make 
whichever contract the law allowed ; all contracts whatsoever 
coming to an end at the jubilee, when liberty was proclaimed 
to all the inhabitants of the land, whether Hebrew or heathen, 
natives or strangers.* 

* JosEPnus. Antiq., B. III., ch. xii. was thus that the Jubilee, as the year 

Josephus intimates no restriction, but of Redemption and of Liberty, univer- 

says, in the most general terms, ol sal, was so lively a type of the coming 

6ovXe(iovtec £?.Ev0£f)oi tlipicvTai, the of Christ, and the ransom by him of 

servants are set free. Immediately sinners of every race. See, also, 

previous ho has said, speaking of the Lightfoot. Works, Yol. Y., 136. 

freedom of the fruits of the earth to Lightfoot quotes Zohar in Lev. xxv., 

all in common in the seventh and lif- " As at the jubilee all servants wext 

tieth years, that there was no distinc- free, so at the last redemption," etc. 

tion in that respect between their own Also, Yol. III., 110, 111. Compare 

countrymen and foreigners. If in Saalschutz, Laws of Moses, Yol. II., 

minor things, much more in this great 714. Also, Kitto's Cyclop., Art. 

law of justice and benevolence, would Slave. See, also, remarks in Stil- 

the grand principle bo fulfilled, Ye lixgfleet's Origines Sacra;, Yol. I, 

shall have the same manner of law ch. vii. 
lor the stranger and the native. It 


Freedom and Eights or the Children of Servants. — Essence of American Slav- 
ery. — Perversion of the Marriage Relation into a Slave-Breeding Factory. 
— Impossibility of such a Monstrosity and Atrocity being Sanctioned of God. 

And now we have a fourth point, of immense importance in 
this investigation, growing directly out of this clause before 
us in the twenty-first chapter of Exodus, the point, namely, 
as to the position and rights of the children of servants born 
in the households of their masters. Did they belong to the 
master, or to their own parents ? The bare statement of the 
question is enough to settle it, but we patiently pursue the 
investigation. From the length of the contracts with servants, 
both ordinary and extraordinary, both the six years' contract 
and that up to the jubilee, it follows, necessarily, that there 
might be, must be, children of servants born in the house. If 
these had belonged to the master, and not to the parents, 
then the ordinance of marriage would have been, as to serv- 
ants among the Hebrews, neither more nor less than a slave- 
breeding institution, a perpetual manufacture of property in 
human flesh, for the sole profit of the owner, the manufactory 
being established and protected by the same divine law which 
said, " Thou shalt love thy neighbor and the stranger as thy- 
self" It would have broken up and destroyed the parental 
relation, and changed the children of the servants into house- 
hold cattle of the master, owned by him, and owing obedience 
to him only. It would have cut off" one whole commandment 
in the decalogue from its application to parents and children, 
" Honor thy father and mother," and transferred the author- 
ity and claim of obedience to the master and owner, the rela- 



tion between father and mother being only that of factors, 
that of agents for the owner, to prepare, stamp, and make 
over into his possession, for his riches, new articles of prop- 
erty belonging to him. 

If any one can believe that a marriage institution, of a na- 
ture so barbarous and diabolical as this, was set up by the 
divine law among the Hebrews, such a man can believe in any 
iniquity as divine. And to this extent a man must go in order 
to find any sanction of the system of American slavery in the 
word of God. For the essence of American slavery, the cen- 
tral, fundamental element of cruelty and crime, by which it is 
sustained and made perpetual, is just this, namely, the inces- 
sant and perpetual stealing of children from their parents, by 
the factorship of the marriage relation, perverted, corrupted, 
diabolized, into an engine of anguish and debasement to the 
parents, and of gain to the masters, that hath on it, more than 
any thing else in this world, the stamp of hell. But of this 
indescribable and infinitely atrocious wickedness there can not 
be a trace discovered in the Hebrew laws or domestic usages. 
The children of servants could no more be taken for property, 
or converted into property, or claimed by the master as be- 
longing to him, than the servants themselves. 

It would be infinitely monstrous to suppose that whereas 
the parents were free to hire themselves out as they chose, 
and could not be challenged as owing service to any one 
longer than six years, or, if for a longer period, only by a 
definite, voluntary contract, and never were, nor could be 
slaves, never could become the property of their masters ; 
that their children, by the accident of being born to them 
while they were engaged in his service, became, not their 
children, but his property ! Where are the articles of such 
villainy, or any indications of them ? Where did ever the 
parents exist on earth that would consent to it? The suppo- 
sition of such a thing among Hebrew parents, such an admis- 
sion of child-stealing as an article of domestic service, would 


be an impious buffoonery. Such a thing could not exist, 
such an operation could not take place, but by divine com- 
mand, and upon a voluntary contract. Was there ever such 
a command, or, even among the imported forms of idolatry, 
was there ever such an incarnation of Pandemonium, bad 
enough to suggest, or fierce enough to enforce it ? Was 
there ever a set of servants so servile and dehumanized as to 
obey it or admit it ? Did they ever make such a contract ? 
Did they ever agree that, though the master had no power 
over them, no claim upon them as property, he should never- 
theless have the right to grasp and hold as his property the 
objects of their affection, the children given to them of God, 
and dearer to them than themselves, just by reason of the fact 
that they were born in his household ? Could a more incred- 
ible, impossible monstrosity of oppression and of cruelty be laid 
to the charge of a divine revelation ? Nothing but a system 
which is " the sum of all villainies" could ever give birth to 
the imagination of such an atrocity. 

Even if the tenure of service on the part of the parents 
had been such as to admit some idea of property in them- 
selves, bought and paid for by the master as their owner, 
which it does not, still there could be no claim, except by a 
separate agreement and purchase, to the children ; and such 
agreement there never was, nor ever the possibility of such 
purchase provided for. Even if the law could be shown to 
have given you property in the father, it gives you none in the 
child. Not one step can you go in this wickedness beyond 
the bond. If the law could allow your pound of flesh, it gives 
no drop of blood ; above all, it does not allow you to take the 
heart's blood of the parent, in consigning the children, from 
the very womb, to the degradation and hopeless misery of a 
breathing and sensitive article of property and traffic. For the 
sanction of such an abomination, you have got to show a law 
in Hebrew legislation for claiming the children of servants, 
without right, without equivalent, without consent, a law dem- 


onstrating that for all that portion of the human family who 
work for wages, children are not a heritage from the Lord, 
but an heir-loom for the owner's avarice and cruelty. Such 
a law you can show in American slavery, and it brands the 
page where it is recorded, and the whole legislation that ad- 
mits and sustains it, to everlasting execration, as the climax 
of iniquity and cruelty. But you can not, dare not, claim 
that as an essential element of Christianity; yet you must, 
in order to find the least sanction of American slavery in 
God's word, produce in that word the .exact model of that 
devilish law. 

There is, certainly, no natural right to enslave. It must be 
the creation of law, and of law framed on purpose for oppres- 
sion, on purpose to establish, as legal, that which is naturally 
unjust. It were blasphemy to suppose this done by Jehovah. 
But assume, if you please, the existence in Judea of servants 
bound for life, bought for life. Is there any natural claim upon 
the children in consequence of such purchase of the parents ? 
Did they, when they sold their own services, stand as the fed- 
eral head of a race consigned by that purchase as the property 
of their masters for ever? Is there the slightest indication of 
such a monstrosity ? Is that the meaning of God's embrace 
of the children in his covenant of mercy and love to the 
lathers? Was that the meaning of the Lord Jesus, when he 
said, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid 
them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven ? All these 
enormities are essential to the existence of slavery, of that 
American slavery which claims to be sanctioned of Jehovah 
in his word. It constitutes and perpetuates, under pretense 
of divine law, nay, and of divine benevolence, such an accursed 
race, a race given over as the property of another race, with- 
out equivalent, without purchase, without payment. 

The examination of the point before us is as an observa- 
tion by the quadrant at sea, whereby we bring down the sun 
to demonstrate our exact position in relation to this sin ; we 


learn the position of this sin in morals, and the depth and ad- 
vancement of our depravity if we maintain it. We guage 
the guilt both toward God and man by this test, and show the 
impossibility of there ever having been the least sanction of 
it on the pages of a divine revelation. The institution of 
marriage was for all mankind, and not for certain aristocratic 
or governing classes merely. The unity of the family circle, 
with its privileges of sanctity, freedom and independence that 
could not be invaded, was not for the wealthy merely, while 
the laborer, the servant, was to be excluded from it, and put 
under the law of the contubernium for the master's profit ;* 
under the operation, in a slave-breeding manufactory, of a 
promiscuous concubinage so diabolical, that that worse than 
heathen monstrosity, set apart of God with a special seal of 
wrath branded upon it, should become no uncommon reality, 
" That a man and his father should go in unto the same 

The institution of marriage, so adulterated, in combination 

* Fuss, Roman Antiq., of Slaves, remarkable proof of the efficacy of 
sec. 51, 52, 54, 56. The frightful the system of American slavery, as a 
similarity is to be noted between hot-house of exotic abominations that 
Roman and American slavery — Ro- could have been reared nowhere else 
man under the system of Paganism, under heaven, under no climate, in 
American under Christianity — and no tropic of pure, unadulterated na- 
especially the oneness and monstros- tive religion, but only where the ca- 
ity of both in the same Sodomic li- pacities of natural depravity were 
centiousness and adultery, on prin- assisted by the artificial combinations 
ciple and for profit. It has been of a gangrened and perverted Chris- 
gravely decided that the marriage tianity, made the efficient instrument 
contract not being possible in law of deadliest sin. "While they promise 
between slaves, the crime of adultery the perfection of liberty, the sup- 
is done away among them, and they porters of this system are themselves 
having no marital rights, no man can the servants of corruption, speaking 
be punished for any violation of them, great swelling words of vanity, out 

f Amos, ii. 7. The startling appa- of a heart exercised with cursed 

rition of the grossest and most horrid practices, and presenting to the world 

iniquities engendered from the ming- an amalgamation of the gospel in 

ling of the worship of Moloch aud of a form of most vaunted orthodoxy 

God, in full blossom and power under with the most wanton antinomian- 

the light of the gospel, is the most ism under heaven. 


with the law of domestic service, must have constituted, if 
that service was the system of slavery, the excommunication, 
to the latest generation, of all the posterity of servants from 
all the privileges of freedom, and the creation and consecra- 
tion of children and children's children, for and under the 
curse of chattelism, to be cast out and trodden down of so- 
ciety with a ban worse than any ever contrived or fastened on 
mankind by the Man of Sin and Son of Perdition. Where is 
the covenant of such an abomination ? In what part of the 
charter of divine mercy for mankind does it lie enshrined or 
buried ? Under what literal or typical swathing, with what 
winding sheets of grave-clothes, laid away for the millennium 
of its resurrection ? It has been reserved for the false Mes- 
siahs of a modern slaveholding Christianity to stand at this 
sepulcher, and bid this festering carcass come forth, com- 
manding the church and the ministry to loose him and let 
him go. And this is the missionary Lazarus, whom the mod- 
ern interpreters of divine providence are to charter and send 
out as the great power of God, the wonder-working, mission- 
ary, providential agency, whereby Ethiopia shall soon stretch 
forth her hands unto heaven ! 

The entailment of slavery among the Hebrews, the law of 
its hereditary succession, the abrogation of marriage by it, and 
the substitution of a system of concubinage and adultery in- 
stead of that divine ordinance, would have changed the whole 
condition and history of the nation. If the children of serv- 
ants had been of necessity and by birth slaves, if such had 
been the law, and consequently the practice, the result would 
have been inevitable, a slave population in Judea increasing 
more rapidly than the free Hebrews themselves. But for a 
thousand years there is not the least trace of such a popula- 
tion, or law, or traffic ; and the last crime that filled up the 
measure of the nation's iniquities, and brought down upon 
them the wrath of God without remedy, was the attempt to 


set aside their free constitution, which made such a slave race 
impossible, and to establish slavery in its stead. 

"We see, very plainly, some of the reasons of God's extreme 
severity in punishment of that last mighty crime. The moment 
that free constitution, which had been appointed of God, was 
set aside, and the people took their servants and said, You 
shall be ours at our pleasure, our property for ever, it made 
them all, at one blow, men-stealers — a nation of men-stealers. 
And if they proceeded to take the children also, as they would 
have done, it would make them double men-stealers, that is, 
stealers of the children first from their parents, second from 
themselves, without any price or equivalent paid to any one. 
But in the very same chapter of laws in which God had re- 
stricted the period, of Hebrew domestic service to six years, 
there was written out also the great divine law against man- 
stealing and selling : " He that stealeth a man, and selleth 
him, or if he be found in his hand, shall surely be put to 
death." Now the stealing of mere property was never pun- 
ished by death ; and if men had been considered as property, 
there would have been no such penalty as that against the 
stealing of men. But they were not ; and because the convert- 
ing of them into property Avas a perpetual moral assassination 
of them and their posterity, destroying the children through 
their parents, therefore, not only the act of stealing, but the 
claim of property in a human being, the holding of him as 
property, and the making merchandise of him, was, in the 
sight of God, as great a crime as killing him ; it was an ini- 
quity set in the same category for its punishment as murder. 

And such a system as that of slavery could not possibly 
have been established without this crime and guilt of man- 
stealing ; for even supposing any persons ever to have been 
sold as slaves for crime (of which there never was an instance, 
and could not be), the law strictly defended the children from 
being affected by that punishment. The children could never 
have been held in bondage because the parents were ; there 


was no attainder, or entailment of vengeance, permitted. " The 
fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall 
the children be put to death for the fathers, but every man 
for his own sin." Deuteronomy, xxiv. 16. And the practical 
enforcement of this law we may find in 2 Chronicles, xxv. 4, 
where Amaziah punished the murderers of the king, his 
father, " but slew not their children, but did as it is written in 
the law of the book of Moses, where the Lord commanded, 
saying, " The fathers shall not die for the children, nor the 
children for the fathers, but every man for his own sin." God 
also says in Ezekiel, in reference to the same thing, " Behold, 
all souls are mine ; as the soul of the father, so also the soul 
of the son is mine." Ezekiel, xviii., 4. 

There was, therefore, no possible way in which children 
could be enslaved without man-stealing ; and when the nation, 
in the last stage of corruption and decay, undertook so to 
change their constitution and laws, as that servants and their 
children should be the property of their masters, they became 
a nation of man-stealers ; aud for that crime God swept them 
from the face of the country. This same iniquity it is, which 
constitutes the great guilt of our own nation, and makes 
American slaveholders a people of men-stealers. They may 
aver that they bought the parents and paid for them, but the 
children they have stolen, stolen them from themselves, from 
their parents, from society, from God, without one farthing 
ever paid for them, with no claim upon them, save only the 
unrighteous and cruel enslavement of their parents before 

Man-stealing and man-selling are the sole origin especially 
of American slavery. The progenitors of the human beings 
now bought and sold as chattels in this country were stolen 
from their native land, and they who first bought them knew 
that they were stolen. And their paying the price for them 
to the slave trader could not and did not take away from the 
poor stolen creatures their own right of ownership in them- 


selves, but they remained stolen men and women, just as 
truly after being bought and paid for as before ; and they 
who bought them and paid for them and claimed them as 
property, knowing them to have been stolen, were accessory 
to the crime, just as, by common law, the receiver of stolen 
property is party with the thief. If buying and paying, with- 
out just title, constituted lawful property, then what infinite 
villainies would be hourly committed with perfect safety ! 
You, A B, declaring yourself to be the owner of any piece 
of property in the city or the country, could sell it to C D 
for five hundred or a thousand dollars, could sell any man's 
house over his own head, and the payment of that thousand 
dollars would make that buyer the owner, though you had no 
more right to sell, no more authority on the premises, than the 
nakedest beggar in Australia ! 

The absurdity is palpable, when the article thus bought and 
sold is an ordinary item of estate or merchandise ; but the moment 
the subject of such buying and selling is a human being with a 
dark skin, it is enough for the buyer to aver that he has paid for 
him. In the case of ordinary articles of traffic, in the transfer 
of property, justice watches both sides, and the seller must es- 
tablish his title to sell, or the buyer's having paid forty thousand 
dollars for the property could not make it his. In the case of a 
negro, it is enough for any white man to swear that he purchased 
him, and that makes the purchased black man a slave without 
remedy. How dreadful is this guilt ! Plow sinful in the sight 
of Heaven such perfect disregard and annihilation of the right 
of each human being to the ownership of himself ! The trans- 
mission of such property by inheritance is merely the trans- 
mission of a crime ; no title can be transmitted where none 
existed. A man's slave property being inherited gives him 
no title as heir, since it was stolen at the outset, and all the 
increase by natural propagation is just merely the increase of 
the theft, the race on his hands being a stolen race. It is im- 
possible, by transmission, to convert the crime into an inno- 


cent transaction. No man can innocently buy a fellow-man as 
property, or acquire any right of property in him, though he 
should give for him the cost of the whole solar system, it' that 
could be weighed in God's balances, and put into his hands. 
The essential element of man-stealing is in the very title by 
which you claim any creature of those human beings whom 
you hold as property. 

It is this perpetuating of injustice, this predestination and 
legacy of it as an inheritance, which the heirs of the estate 
plead that they are compelled to accept, as its guardians, that 
makes the system infinitely horrible and monstrous. The ele- 
ments of evil in this iniquity, as well as the living subjects of 
oppression, run on increasing from generation to generation. 
You had perhaps two slaves bequeathed to you ; yourself 
create five others and bequeath them. If you merely trans- 
mitted the two that you received, the system would be com- 
paratively harmless ; but it is a wickedness redoubled by every 
successive race of owners, who in their turn not only receive 
the stolen goods of those that preceded them, but themselves 
steal a new community, themselves claim a new and separate 
circle of human beings as their property, and maintain that all 
this is by the sanction of God Almighty. 

Now, if such iniquity as this, and suoh propagation of it, 
had been rendered impossible in no other way, it would have 
been by the great law of jubilee, which was a universal, un- 
conditional emancipation of all the inhabitants of the land 
every fifty years, making it absolutely impossible for any 
man's race or posterity ever to be enslaved. And that was 
one great object of this law, while at the same time it pro- 
vided a preparatory discipline of heathen servants, to fit them 
also for the perfect freedom of the Hebrews. 

It took them from the influences and examples of heathen- 
ism, and kept them, on an average, twenty or twenty-five years 
under the power and teachings of the divine law, and then 
they were free. The service of the heathen was by voluntary 


contract, and not an involuntary servitude ; it was for wages 
paid, according to agreement, and made no approximation to 
slavery ; and the law extending the term of contract to the 
jubilee operated as a naturalization law of benevolent proba- 
tionary freedom for those who had perhaps been idolaters 
and slaves. They were put under such a system as made 
them familiar with all the religious privileges and observances 
which God had ordered and bestowed ; a system that admit- 
ted them to instruction and kindness, and prepared them to 
pass into integral elements of the nation. But all engagements 
were voluntary. No Hebrew could compel any heathen to 
serve him ; no Hebrew could buy any heathen servant of a 
third party as an article of property. No such buying or sell- 
ing was ever permitted, but every contract was to be made 
with the servant himself. The forty-fourth verse of the twenty- 
fifth chapter of Leviticus proves this. " Both thy men-servants 
and thy maid-servants, which shall be to you of the heathen 
that are round about you, of them shall ye buy the man-serv- 
ant and the maid-servant." And the forty-fifth verse contin- 
ues, "Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do so- 
journ among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their fiimilies 
that are with you, which they begat in your land ; and they 
shall be to you for a possession." Of the children of the stran- 
gers shall ye buy ; that is, ye shall take the children them- 
selves, as many as are willing to enter your service on this 
contract, not from a third party, but from themselves, by their 
own free choice, and from their f tmilies begotten among you ; 
and those so taken, so engaged, shall, as to their time and serv- 
ice for the period for which they engage themselves, belong to 
you, be to you for a possession, a fixture of service, up to the 
period of jubilee. " Ye shall take them as an inheritance for 
your children after you to inherit a possession ; ye shall serve 
yourselves with them for ever." 

This language is the same with that used before concerning 
the Hebrew servant, under the same long contract till the jubi- 


lee, and what it means in the one case, precisely the same it 
means in the other ; that is, they shall be your servants for 
the longest period admitted by your laws for any service or 
any contract, even till the jubilee. And as engaged by such 
contract, and paid on such terms, ye do take them, and may 
take them, as an inheritance for your children after you, for 
any part of the term of such service which may remain un- 
expired, when you, the head of the family, are taken away. 
Then those servants, by you engaged and paid for an appren- 
ticeship till the jubilee, shall be for your children to inherit as 
a possession, the possession of their time and service, which, 
by your contract with them, as rightfully belongs to your chil- 
dren as to you, until the stipulated period come to an end. 

Hebrew servants thus engaged themselves, or sold them- 
selves to families of strangers, and it was called selling them- 
selves to the stock of the stranger's family ; that is, selling 
themselves for a possession to the children of the family, until 
the jubilee ; thus constituting a fixture, a possession, as to time 
and service that had been engaged and paid for, in the family 
stock. This was done by Hebreics themselves, who, neverthe- 
less, were perfectly free, and in no sense slaves ; it was done 
in exactly the same way by the heathen, on a contract exactly 
as free, and they were nevertheless in no sense slaves. But 
this jubilee contract, once entered into, Avas a contract belong- 
ing to the family ; it was a contract by which the servant's 
time and labor having been purchased, if ten, or forty years, was 
due to the family for that period. It had been purchased by 
the master for himself and his household, his children ; and 
the servant so apprenticed would belong, that is, his time and 
service would belong, to the family, to the children, if the 
master died before the time of the contract expired. If, for 
example, the master entered into such a contract the seventh 
year after the jubilee, it would be a contract for forty-three 
years to come. Now, suppose the master to die ten years 
from that time, then manifestly the time and service of the 


Hebrew sei'vant would belong to the family as their inher- 
itance; it would belong to the children as their possession, 
after their father ; and, again, if they all died within the next 
ten or twenty years, and the servant lived, then ten or twenty 
years of the unexpired service would still belong to the grand- 
children, as their possession; and so on till the jubilee. It 
would be an inheritance for the master, and his children after 
him, to inherit a possession ; inasmuch as his death, ten years 
after a contract made and paid with a servant for forty years, 
did not and could not release that servant from his obligation 
to complete the service for which he had been paid before- 

Meantime, the servant could, on his own score, trade with 
the money which he had thus received, could turn it to the 
most remunerative account possible ; for he was not owned 
by his master ; and if any inhuman, oppressive claim were 
set up over him as property, he could flee away from such 
tyranny, and every man was bound to shelter and protect 
him ; no man was permitted to return him to his master. 
He was protected by other definite provisions, likewise, from 
the cruelty of a bad master ; of which provisions the enact- 
ment in Exodus, xxi. 27, is an example : " If he smite out his 
man-servant's tooth, or his maid-servant's tooth, he shall let 
him go free for his tooth's sake." "We shall proceed to develop 
the peculiarities of freedom and benevolence in these remark- 
able laws, and demonstrate their operation.* 

* See Saalschutz, Laws of Moses, Granville Sha'rpe, Law of Retribu- 

on the provisions by which the ser- tion against Tyrants, Slaveholders, and 

vant could trade on his own account, Oppressors. Compare, also, Judge 

and on the nature of the service ren- Jay on Hebrew Servitude, one of the 

dered by Jacob to Laban. Also, best productions of that eminent phi 

Ejtto's Cyclop., article Slave. See, lanthropist. Compare, also, Stilling 

also, Barnes on the privileges of He- fleet, Origines Sacra;, Yol. I., ch. vii. 

brew servants. Inquiry into Scrip, remarks on the duration of the Jubilei. 

Views of Slavery, ch. v. Compare Contract. 


God's Fugitive Law for Protection op tiie Runaway. — Comparison of it with 
Laws for the Restoration of Property. — Demonstration from it of the Im- 
possibility of Property in Man. — The Guilt of such a Claim. — Slavehold- 
er Punished with Death. - 

" Tnou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which 
is escaped from his master unto thee. He shall dwell with 
thee, even among you, in that place which lie shall choose, in 
one of thy gates, where it liketh him best. Thou shalt not 
oppress him." Deuteronomy, xxiii. 15, 16. This is part of 
God's personal liberty bill for a free people, who, if they would 
preserve their own freedom, must respect that of others, must 
protect the liberties of all, without respect of person. The 
benevolence and generosity of the Mosaic legislation against 
slavery, with the running fiery commentary of the prophets, 
denouncing this and every form of oppression, will for ever 
remain among the most convincing proofs of a divine revela- 
tion. A rainbow over the gates of Paradise, a cataract of 
liquid ruby or diamond bursting into spray, with the sun shin- 
ing on it, a dome of the celestial city, with a phalanx of angels 
floating around it, would not be more beautiful, more won- 
derful, than these verses, in contrast with the slave legislation 
of the world. This divine fugitive law is a suitable companion 
for the law against man-stealing, completing the demonstration 
against the possibility of property in man. 

It proves that in the divine estimation, no man could own 
another man in such a sense, as to have any claim upon him 
against his own will, without his own consent, in a contract of 
voluntary service; no man could own another man as property; 
and if he set up such a claim, the poor oppressed creature so 

GOD'S personal liberty bill. 95 

claimed had the right to run away, the right to take possession 
of himself as his own, no matter how much his alleged owner 
might have paid for him. He had the right to run away, and 
every righteous man was bound to help him run away, and to 
give him shelter and protection. His master could not rio-ht- 
eously demand him, for he could not and did not own him, could 
not righteously have bought and held him as property. The 
bargain of purchase and sale, by which he pretended to have 
acquired possession of him, was not only null and void, but 
was a theft, a robbery, an act of man-stealing. And so, instead 
of returning the fugitive, it would be incumbent on the law to 
seize the master making such a demand as his professed owner, 
and to indict and punish him for that crime. But the fugitive 
could never be treated as a slave ; the whole nation, and every 
individual in it, were bound and compelled to regard and pro- 
tect him as a freeman. He could never have been justly 
bought or sold as property, and the claim in him as such was 
forbidden on pain of death. 

If he could have been justly, at any time, bought as prop- 
erty, then he would have been justly owned, he would have 
been the buyer's property ; and if he had fled away, would 
have been himself the thief, and by the law of God, every 
Hebrew would have been bound to aid in capturing and re- 
storing him to his owner. For it was expressly provided that 
all manner of lost or stolen property should be restored to the 
owner ; and the Hebrew code had a specific closeness of detail 
and pertinacity of justice in this respect, that never marked 
the jurisprudence of any other people. If any man's ox, or 
ass, or sheep strayed from him, and any man found it, he was 
bound not only to advertise the owner, but even if he were 
his enemy, to bring it back to him again. If the owner was 
not known, or lived at a distance, then the law ran, " Thou 
shalt bring it to thine own house, and it shall be with thee 
until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him 
again. In like manner shalt thou do with his ass, and so shalt 


thou do -with his raiment, and with all lost things of thy 
brother'3, which he hath lost and thou hast found, shalt thou 
do likewise ; thou mayst not hide thyself."* 

All lost things thou shalt deliver unto the owner. Now it 
is clear that if a slave were a thing, or if there had been such 
a thing as a slave recognized or lawful, such a possibility as 
that of property in man, there would have been no withdraw- 
ing that kind of thing, that kind of property, from under the 
operation of these laws. The obligation of restoring all lost 
things, all escaped, or runaway, or stolen property, must have 
included the most valuable of all property ; and the law Avould 
inevitably have read, Thou shalt especially restore unto his 
owner his lost slave. But it reads the reverse, Thou shalt not 
deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his 
master unto thee. The conclusion is inevitable, the proof 
from God impregnable, that man can not own property in 
man. If the servant could have been property, then he would 
have been the most valuable of all property, and the man de- 
taining him from his owner would have been the greatest of 
all thieves. If he could have been property, as an ox or a 
sheep" is property, then the obligation to restore him to his 
owner would have been by as much greater as a man is more 
valuable than a sheep. By the market price, on the compari- 
son of lost things, according to the southern tariff, there 
would be at least fifty or a hundred times a greater obligation 
to deliver up a man than a sheep. The thing, therefore, 
is unqualified demonstration, and by this line of argument 
alone, from this one statute only, it is plain that there can be 
no such thing as property in man. This is God's judgment. 

But God has made the case still stronger. By the statute 
in Exodus, xxii. 1-4, if a man steal an ox or a sheep, and kill it 
or sell it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for 
a sheep. But if the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, 
whether ox, ass, or sheep, he shall restore double. Tha thief 
* Deuteronomy, xxii. 1-3. 


of mere property was not otherwise punished than by such 
fine, but never with death ; but he must make restitution, in 
some cases seven-fold. Now, according to this measure, if a 
man could have been property, like an ox, if there had been, 
or could be, or could have been, under God's law or permis- 
sion, such property as a slave, then the thief stealing a man 
and selling him as a slave, or helping him to run away, would 
have been bound to restore at least five slaves for the one he 
stole and sold, or helped to escape ; but if the stolen man 
were found in his hand, then he would have to restore two 
slaves for one. And if any man, considered as a slave, consid- 
ered as property, ran away from his owner, and were caught, 
then, having been himself his own thief, he would be bound 
to become two men returning ; he must restore two slaves in- 
stead of one to his master. If any other man stole him and 
sold him, or helped him to run away, he must have restored 
five slaves to his owner, instead of the one he had helped to 
escape. Such must have been the law, if a man could have 
been property, if property in man had been admitted or pos- 

Now read the law in regard to stealing a man. He that 


not possibly be property, and as the making of him such was 
an injury that could never be recompensed, any more than 
the injury of murder, the scale of retribution instantly ascends 
to the highest penalty possible for crime on earth, and he that 
stole, sold, or held a human being as a slave was inevitably to 
be put to death. The claim of property in man was such a 
crime, that any connivance with it was worthy of death ; and 
any legal toleration or establishment of its possibility would 
be a wrong against man so immeasurable, and a sin against 
God so infinite, that to admit it even by implication in a just 
code was impossible. God forbade the very supposition of 
property in man. 



Slavery is the holding and treating of a human being as 
property. It is buying, selling, making merchandise of him. 
The making merchandise of him is set by itself as the same 
crime with the stealing of him, and is condemned ot God to 
the punishment of death. The holding of him as a chattel, a 
thing of merchandise, is in like manner forbidden on pain of 
death. The first law against this crime ran as follows: "He 
that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his 
hand, he shall surely be put to death." A man, any human 
being ; the statute comprehended both Jew and Gentile. The 
note of Grotius on this text shows the interpretation given to 
it by one of the most impartial and learned jurists in the 
world, and one of the most careful and accurate students of 
the Scriptures. It is a testimony of great value, as being the 
opinion of a competent judge, without bias, without prejudice, 
on a matter not then in controversy, the meaning of a statute 
perfectly explicit in its terms, and the extent and particularity 
of its application. 

This emphatic note was adopted by the General Assembly 
of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, in the publi- 
cation of the Larger Catechism appended to the Confession of 
Faith, and it stood there for a number of years, a faithful tes- 
timony from the word of God against the iniquity of slave- 
holding. The note of the Assembly was on the first paragraph 
of the answer to the question, "What are the sins forbidden in 
the eighth commandment?" Answer, "The sins forbidden in 
the eighth commandment, besides the neglect of the duties 
required, are theft, robbery, man-stealing, and receiving any 
thing that is stolen." Note, "1 Timothy, i. 10. The law is 
made for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with 
mankind, for mex-stealeus. This crime among the Jews ex- 
posed the perpetrators of it to capital punishment (Exodus, 
xxi. 16), and the Apostle here classes them with sinners of the 
first rank. The word he uses, in its original import, compre- 
hends all who are concerned in bringing any of the human 


race into slavery, or in detaining them in it. ITominura fares, 
qui servos vel liberos abducunt, retinent, vendunt, vel emunf. 
Stealers of men are all those who bring off slaves or freemen, 
and keep, sell, or buy them.' 1 '' " To steal a freeman," says Gro- 
tins, "is the highest kind of theft. In other instances, we 
only steal human property, but when we steal or retain men 
in slavery, we seize those who, in common with ourselves, are 
constituted, by the original grant, lords of the earth." Gen., 
i. 28. Vide Pol. Synopsin, in loc. 

This direct and faithful testimony against the sin of slave- 
holding stood for years in the book of the Presbyterian Con- 
fession of Faith. Editions of it were published and freely 
circulated at the South,* where the testimony could not be 
contradicted, and as being the testimony of the church, in her 
received standards, was of the highest authority and impor- 
tance, to be carefully maintained and constantly and without 
hindrance proclaimed. It was worth more than all that has 
since been put in its place, by any or all Assemblies since the 
year w r hen it was expunged from the volume. For expunged 
it was, and that too at a time when its voice was becoming 
more and more powerful and necessary, and a long and com- 
promising note in the year 1818 was set in its place. 

The first law against man-stealing, holding, and selling, re- 
corded in Exodus, was promulgated of God in the year B. C. 
1491. Forty years afterwards, this statute appears in another 
form, or rather, an additional statute is enacted, not taking the 
place of the other, nor in any way abrogating it, or restricting 
its application, but particularizing the native Hebrew, the Israel- 

* The edition before me is that of the fled and adopted by the Synod of 

year 1801, at Wilmington and Balti- New York and Philadelphia, held at 

more. The title page is as follows: Philadelphia May the 16th, 1783, and 

" The Constitution of the Presbyterian continued by adjournments until the 

Church in the United States of Amer- 28th of the same month. Wilming- 

ica, containing the Confession of ton : Printed and sold by Bonsall & 

Faith, the Catechisms, the Govern- Niles; also sold at their bookstore, 

ment and Discipline, and the Direct- No. 173 Market street, Baltimore, 

ory for the Worship of God. Rati- 1801." 


ite, as the object of a special protection. This statute (in Deut., 
xxiv. 1) runs as follows : " If a man be found stealing any of his 
brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of 
him, or selleth him, then that thief shall die ; and thou shalt 
put away evil from among you." 

If we inquire the reason for the repetition of the old statute 
against man-stealing, in this new form, we shall probably find 
it in the fact of the tendency of the appointed system of do- 
mestic service among the Hebrews, as an apprenticeship, ordi- 
narily of six years, to pass, in the hands of a cruel householder, 
into oppression ; the temptation for him to take advantage of 
the power given him by this contract, to hold the servant for 
a longer period, and in fact attempt to enslave him. A man 
might possibly endeavor to do this in regard to a Hebrew 
servant, who would not dare attempt it, in the face of the old 
law, in regard to any heathen freeman, or any man, the stealing 
of whom required the commission of the whole crime, without 
any foundation of previous legal service to build upon. The 
making merchandise of any of his brethren would be the 
changing of him from a voluntary servant into a slave ; it 
would be the act of man-stealing, if he held him as a servant 
against his will, without contract, with the claim of property 
in him, and the claim and usurpation of the right of disposing 
of his services, or of his person, to others as property. Such 
a transfer of him would be a crime worthy of death ; and any 
man who entered into the conspiracy against him, receiving 
him as property, and in his turn maintaining the claim of prop- 
erty in him, and treating him as merchandise, committed the 
same crime, and came under the same condemnation. 

Now it is plain that this crime, if the fact of its being com- 
mitted at second-hand deprived it of any of its primeval wick- 
edness, might have passed in Judea into a domestic institution, 
a possession, an organized sin, with connivance and protection 
of the law ; just as it has done in our own land, where the 
very same iniquity, forbidden by law as piracy, in the primal 


act, in the first taking of a human being as property and mak- 
ing merchandise of him, is, by simple transfer through other 
hands, transfigured from crime into righteousness, from theft 
into lawful possession, from man-stealing into a just domestic 
right and honorable mercantile transaction ; is established and 
protected by law as an institution, is defended by divines, and 
received into the bosom of the Church as a Christian and 
missionary sacrament ! 

God would not suffer such horrible perversion of justice, 
and enshrinernent of iniquity as righteousness, among his an- 
cient people, and therefore statute after statute was enacted to 
render it impossible. The stealing, the selling, the making 
merchandise in any way, not only of a man, a heathen, a 
stranger, but of a Hebrew, though he were a servant, or of 
any of the children of Israel, under whatever pretense of 
service due, was forbidden on* pain of death. Whosoever 
was found detaining or claiming any human being for such 
purpose, or conspiring with others to maintain such a claim, 
was found guilty of stealing a man, and was to be punished 
with death for it. There is doubtless, in the particularity of 
these statutes, a reference to the crime by which Joseph was 
sold to the Ishmaelites by his brethren, which act was, in both 
the sellers and the buyers, the act of man-stealing, and was so 
described by the record in Genesis. Joseph was stolen by his 
brethren in being sold by them ; and if they had been the 
buyers instead of the sellers, if they had bought him as mer- 
chandise, instead of selling him, the crime would have been 
the same ; the making merchandise of a human person being 
under all forms and circumstances, no matter through how 
many transfers, by how many parties soever, the crime of 

Men-stealers, in the words of the original note in the Pres- 
byterian Catechism, comprehended all who were concerned in 
brmging any of the human race into slavery, or in detain- 
ing them in it. Now the slaveholder, the holder of human 



beings as property in slavery, is, in all cases, the man who is 
concerned and employed in detaining the victims of this op- 
pression in it. The slaveholder may say that he only received 
the stolen property, and that he paid for it in receiving it. 
But one of the sins forbidden in the eighth commandment is 
the receiving any thing that is stolen ; and one of the forms 
and methods of this sin, to be punished with death by the law 
of God, Avas the holding of any human being in slavery as 
property ; not the mere stealing of him, which was the more 
palpable form of the crime, but also the holding of him in 
such bondage, as property, (which might more easily have 
escaped notice,) was the whole crime, and was as certainly 
to be punished with death as the original stealing. This dis- 
poses of every slaveholder before God, and sets the crime of 
slaveholding just where it ought to be set — under the gal- 
lows.* . 

* Compare Granville Sharpe's 
powerful scriptural presentation of 
this guilt, in bis Law of Retribution 
against Tyrants, Slaveholders, and 
Oppressors ; and Aristotle's definition 
of a slave, KTTjfia icai opyavov tov 
deoTTorov efupvxov, an animated tool 
and piece of property for the master's 
use; with the slave laws by wbicb 
this definition is carried into de- 
tail ; and the fearful severity with 
which in all ages these laws have 
been executed ; and the manner in 
which the slaveholder makes merch- 
andise of unborn generations, and 
brands the babes of his slaves, as soon 
as they are born, with the Pagan's 
brand for an immortal being. All 
things taken into consideration, no 

man can wonder at God's awful se- 
verity and wrath against the crime 
of making merchandise of man, which 
is the crime of slaveholding. Com- 
pare Grotius and Clarke on Ex. 
xxi., 16, and 1 Tim. i., 10, with Dy- 
mond's Essays on Morality, ch. xviii. ; 
Stephen's Merciless Laws of Slavery, 
and Wallox, Histoire d'Esclavage, 
Vol. II., ch. v. ; also Fuss, Eom. 
Antiq. ; and Becker, Manual, Ac- 
count of Rom. Slavery in Bib. Sac, 
1845. Compare Becker's Charicles, 
Excurs. slaves, and Gallus, Excurs. 
slave family ; also Judge Jay's Works, 
Reproof of the Church, and Letter to 
Ives ; also Stroud, Slave Laws ; and 
Goodell, Am. Slave Laws, Part I. 







Injurious and Tenacious Mixture of Error and Truth. — Importance of the "Work 
of Under-Draining. — Investigation of tiie Words for Servants and Service. 
— Falsely Translated to Mean Bondage and Slave. 

The handling of tbe word of God deceitfully, and all the 
miseries and mischiefs consequent thereupon, may begin in a 
very small, unnoticed way. It is insects, with their microscopic 
eggs, that work the greatest ruin with the most precious 
plants and flowers. By the capture of single words, by set- 
ting his mark upon them, perhaps clipping and milling them, 
and then setting them in circulation as the true coin, Satan 
has gained vast possessions. Perverted phrases, occupied 
with false interpretations, become the strongest citadels of 
the adversary of men's souls. We have adverted to some re- 
markable instances of inveterate and obstinate perversion and 
mistake ; a volume might be occupied in tracing their origin 
and progress. 

The fruits and forms of religious truth, poisoned by such 
malignant error at the fountain, have become like gnarled 
apricots and apples, stung by the curmlio ; and men have be- 
come so habituated to the poisoned fruit, and the fair, sound, 
wholesome plum has become such a stranger, that at length 
they claim the knotted, bitter work of the eurculio as the per- 
fect work of God, and the attempt to excommunicate it from 
the market, and introduce the true fruit in its stead, is de- 
nounced as the work of infidelity and fanaticism. 

Such errors acquire a singular tenacity by time. They con- 
glomerate and adhere, till all the neighboring theology is like 
an old Roman wall, or like the Mrs Nimroud, with the bricks 


so fast in the rocky asphalt urn, that no power can separate 
them ; the whole is as one solid rock, through the tenacity of 
the mortar. One built up a wall, and another daubed it with 
untempered mortar ; but the mortar in this case is tempered 
with vehement passion and power, and the most diabolical 
wickedness is protected by it. 

It is a work of great difficulty to break down these preju- 
dices. Precedents of mistake and wickedness, instead of the 
divine law, are made to constitute the highway of theology, 
the great military road. It follows some tortuous sheep-track, 
the highway of God's truth having been deserted, the prece- 
dent having been set by some bell-wether of the flock passing 
through a gap in the wall, and imitated by others, till the great 
route of theological traffic has become established over the 
breach of God's own commandments. The error has run on, 
age after age giving it sanction, till the support of it has be- 
come a mark of theological conservatism ; and he who en- 
deavors to stand in the way of the multitude, and direct the 
stream of opinion and of trade into the good old paths of 
God, is in danger of being himself run over and trampled to 
death, or cut down as a heretic and fanatic, or treated with a 
commission of lunacy. If he be not, of a truth, an angel, 
armed with the sword of the Spirit, and trusting wholly in 
God, Balaam on his ass will ride over him for an interview 
and compromise with Balak. 

A few vicious precedents, especially if of high authority, 
are sufficient, even in the church of God, to overlay or shove 
aside the law, till they are at length adopted as the law ; pre- 
cisely according to the example of usurpation set by the 
Scribes and Pharisees in Moses' seat, thrusting the traditions 
of the elders in the place of the divine statutes, or alongside 
with them, as their supreme interpreters. Error is thus taught 
by rote, while the rule of God's word is disregarded or per- 
verted. When things have run on in this manner, unchecked, 
unquestioned for a while, the vital elements of religion suffer, 


and a poison unsuspected is intruded into our daily food. The 
whole province of theology is in danger of becoming an in- 
fected region, as a fair inviting country, beneath whose soil 
the seeds of disease lurk for activity. 

There is a great work of under-draining needed, for we are 
as a people who have built upon ground infested with con- 
cealed fountains of marsh malaria, and filled in for the pur- 
poses of building, with soil thrown over those feverish and 
pestilential springs ; which, being thus partially restrained and 
suffocated, diffuse their noxious effluvia and seminal principles 
through every square foot of soil, into every cellar, beneath 
every basement. There is no possibility of outliving, or ignor- 
ing, or defying this invisible mischief. There can be no remedy, 
no security, but in a thorough under-draining of our ecclesias- 
tical and theological marshes by the word of God. The fever 
and ague of a false piety is in every shovel-full of soil thrown 
up out of such stagnant centuries of error ; every furrow turned 
over by the plow of such theology emits a vapor that smites 
the very husbandman with disease. All the quinine of the 
Tract volumes, all the tonics of the most stringent Calvinism, 
can not keep out the sickness from the system, while its ele- 
mentary principles are diffused as health. The whole piety 
that builds over such foundations will be the condemned vic- 
tim of the shakes, a fitful, unreliable, antinomian religion, now 
burning, now freezing ; furious and proud in the extremes of 
a boasted orthodoxy, and confident at the same time in the in- 
dulgence and defense of the worst licentiousness. God must 
overturn and overturn and overturn, working according to 
Hebrews, xii. 27, and removing the things that are or can be 
shaken, till the principle of fever and ague is banished, and 
that alone which can not be shaken remains. In this work of 
sacred radicalism, there is the divine assurance of receiving a 
kingdom which can not be moved. 

Our survey thus far has been general and introductory. 
We now proceed to a careful investigation of the words, or 


periphrastic expressions, employed in the original Hebrew for 
81 wants and bond-servants, servitude and bondage. Not a little 
is depending on their history and usage, and we have already 
noted the remarkable fact, that there is, in reality, no word 
for slave, or bondman, in the Hebrew tongue ; there is no 
Hebrew word, into which these English terras, with our ideas 
attached to them, could properly be translated, or by which 
they could be conveyed. The Roman, Greek, or modern defi- 
nition of the word slavery can not, with the least propriety or 
truth, be assumed as the meaning of the word used for serv- 
ant or bond-servant in the Hebrew Scriptures. This is a most 
important fundamental consideration. 


The ordinary word for servant is is?, evedh. The verb nay, 
avadh, to labor, constitutes the root. The primary signification 
of the verb has nothing to do with that afterwards attached to 
the noun, but is independent, separate, generic. It is an honor- 
able meaning ; for labor is the vocation of freemen, or was so 
before the fall, when the lather of mankind was put into the 
garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it, and to till the 
ground ; to work upon the ground, to cultivate it. The first 
iustance of the use of the verb is in Genesis, ii. 5 : There was 
not a man to till the ground, "1M&, laavodh, to labor upon it, 
to cidtivate it. 

So in Genesis, iii. 23 : The Lord God sent him forth from 
the garden of Eden, to till the ground, from whence he was 
taken ; "0?£, laavodh, to wor/c upon it. 

So in Genesis, iv. 2 : Cain was a tiller of the ground, "or, 
ovedh, a man working the ground; that was his occupation. 

Also, Genesis, iv. 12: in the sentence of Cain, the same word 
is made use of, the verb in the second person ; when thou tillest 
the ground, "0?£ taavod/t. 

The generic signification of the word, and the only significa- 
tion possible in primeval society, is that of labor, work, personal 


occupation. The same universal meaning is in the command- 
ment, Six days shalt thou labor, -asp, taavodh. Exodus, xx. 9. 

In process of time comes the secondary meaning, with the 
idea included of laboring for another; that additional idea 
constitutes, indeed, the secondary meaning. At first it is only 
the idea of working for another willingly, or for a considera- 
tion, for wages; as might be done by brothers and sisters, or 
other blood relatives in the same family. See Malachi, iii. 17: 
As a man spareth his own son that serveth him, isyn, haovedh. 
There is yet no signification of subjection or of servitude. In 
Genesis, xxix. 15, it is used concerning the service of Jacob 
to Laban : Shouldst thou serve me for nought ? Tell me what 
shall thy wages be ? ■'rnnayjj, a voluntary service. And Jacob 
served, etc., *ra»sn, vayavodh, xxix. 20. For the service which 
thou shalt serve, xxix. 27, "iajjg yo» sviass. 

Next comes the added significance of subjection, first, j^olit- 
ically, the subjection of tributary communities under one lord, 
as in Genesis, xiv. 4 : Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, 
ite^^a h« i^s, avdhu. So in Deuteronomy, xx. 11 : All the 
people shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee, 
5p"»a»3, vaavadhu. So in Genesis, xxv. 23, of the subjection 
of Esau to Jacob: The elder shall serve the younger, -toyi, 
avodh. Also, Genesis, xxvii. 40, in Isaac's prediction : Thou 
shalt serve thy brother, yttn, avodh. Also in Jeremiah, 
xxv. 11 : These nations shall serve the king of Babylon, 
$*-ns nasi. So Genesis, xxvii. 29 : Let people serve thee, 

Second, both politically and personally. Genesis, xv. 13, 
spoken of the bondage in Egypt : Thy seed shall serve them, 
tma», avadhum. Genesis, xv. 14: That nation whom they 
shall serve, will I judge, srh»5 -npx ■'San— n». Also, Exodus, 
i. 13 : The Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with 
rigor, na»r, avidhu. Also, Exodus, xiv. 12 : Let us alone, that 
we may serve the Egyptians, en-sw-nx ?Haw\ Also, Jeremiah, 
v. 19: Ye shall serve strangers in a land not yours, nays 


taavdhu. Also, Jeremiah, xvii. 4 : I will cause thee to serve 
thine enemies, Sprnsyfti ^rm 

Third, spoken of personal servitude. Exodus, xxi. 2, con- 
cerning a Hebrew servant : Six years shall he serve thee, na*; 
d'wp tip, avodh. Exodus, xxi. : Shall serve him for ever, 
b'Vy? rrasj, avadhu. Leviticus, xxv. 39: Thou shalt not compel 
him to serve as a bond-servant, nay frWa* ia "iayri— ah. Leviti- 
cus, xxv. 40 : Shall serve thee, unto the year of jubilee, nse — i?, 
yaavodh, "ias>2 Va-n. The personal servitude embraces the idea 
of laboring for another, in subjection and inferiority, either on 
contract for wages, or as an oppression without wages. And 
thus the meaning and reality of the verb nss passes gradually 
from voluntary labor for oneself into service performed for an- 
other, either for wages, or under oppression. 

There are several other modes of usage in which the verb is 
employed, as, first and most commonly, of the service of God. 
Deuteronomy, vi. 13 : Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and 
serve him, "iasri, taavodh. Joshua, xxii. 5: To love the Lord 
your God, and to serve him, "inasjV. 1 Samuel, vii. 3 : Prepare 
your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only, sn*03>i. Also, 
1 Samuel, vii. 4 : The children of Israel served the Lord only, 
nin^-mx inar^i. Psalm lxxii. 11 : All nations shall serve him, 

Second, of the service of idols. Psalm xcvii. 7 : Con- 
founded be all they that serve graven images, Vbj ina>-Va. 
Ezekiel, xx. 39 : Serve ye every one his idols, i'iss, avodhu. 
Deuteronomy, xii. 2 : The nations served their gods, dip— ana*. 
Deuteronomy, xvii. 3, and Judges, x. 13 : Served other gods, 
tp-.hx b"»n'5>N "ias*!. 2 Kings, xxi. 3, worshiped all the host 
of heaven, and served them, trjx "jajjaj. Jeremiah, xxii. 9 : 
"Worshiped other gods, and served them, Bna?^, avdhum. 

Third, it is used once as synonymous with nj-y, to perform, 
in the sense of presenting sacrifice to God ; doing sacrifice, as 
our translation has it, Isaiah, xix. 21 : The Egyptians shall do 
sacrifice and oblation, rtrtswi hat sna»i. 


Fourth, imposing labor on others. Exodus, i. 15 : All their 
service wherein they made them serve, bna snay— iris cunnh?-Vs, 
service served upon them. Similar is Leviticus, xxv. 46, ren- 
dered unjustly in our translation, They shall be your bondmen 
for ever ', rbypi cna, taavodhu, on them ye shall impose service. 
So Jeremiah, xxii. 13 : With his neighbor's service without 
wages, cat-i na?^ wafts, upon his neighbor imposeth work for 
nothing. Jeremiah, xxv. 14: Greek kings shall serve themselves 
of them, di-rtay, avdhu. Jeremiah, xxx. 8 : Strangers shall no 
more serve themselves of him, that is, of Israel, qvvt -r.2> 
to— !)"<a»;— *&}, yaavdhu ; shall no more impose servile labor 
on him, shall no more play the bond-master with him. This is 
as far as the verb ever goes toward the signification to enslave, 
an expression for which there is no equivalent in Hebrew, 
though the verb isto, to sell, is used for the transaction, as in 
the enslaving of Joseph, when his brethren sold him to the 

Now upon the verbal is?, evedh, which is the word all but 
universally employed in Hebrew for servant, it is the second- 
ary meaning, and not the primary, that has descended from the 
verb nay, avadh. The noun "ray, evedh, never means a la- 
borer, a worker, in the generic sense, as Adam and Noah 
were laborers, but always a worker with reference to the will 
of another, a worker in subjection, either on contract by hire, 
or by compulsion. In Ecclesiastes, v. 12, it is said, Sweet is 
the sleep of a laboring man / but there the verb is used, and 
not the noun ; "nfrn, haovedh, him that worketh, or him work- 
ing, the working man. The noun tny means, indeed, a work- 
ing man, but always under direction of another, or in subjec- 
tion as a servant, a serving man. This is the generic meaning 
of the noun ; not labor, but labor as service. 

In Deuteronomy, xxvi. 6, 7, we have examples of several 
words used for labor in the same connection, that is, the con- 
dition of Israel in bondage : The Egyptians laid upon us hard 
bondage, ffop nnh?., hard labor. And the Lord looked on our 


labor and our oppression, MShV—hK'j »Vto». htzy is the verb 
frequently used for laboring to weariness, and feto3>, the verbal 
from it, for wearisome toil, employed frequently in Ecclesiastes, 
as in Ecclesiastes, ii. 10, 11, 19-22, both the verb and the 
noun, both concerning labor of the mind and the body. So 
Psalm exxvii. 1 : They labor in vain, *Vte». 

In Psalm exxviii. 2, yet another word for labor, which is 
frequently used, »*;, thou shalt eat the labor of thy hands, 
swj, the verbal, used also in Genesis, xxxi. 42, Haggai, i. 11, 
Job, x. 3 : The labor of the hands. But none of these words 
besides )"Hb» are used of servile labor exclusively, or with any 
definition that restricts their meaning, and decides it as ap- 
plied to service for another, as is the case with is* and nnhj>, 
for example, in Leviticus, xxv. 39, nay rrhy, rendered in our 
translation, the labor of a bond-servant. 

Then, secondarily, nay, evedh, is applied by persons of noble 
station and life in speaking of themselves to other noble per- 
sonages, instead of using the personal pronoun me. It is an 
oriental peculiarity. Genesis, xxxiii. 5, in Jacob's address to 
his brother Esau : The children which God hath graciously 
given thy servant, Jpja?. So Genesis, xlii. 13: Thy servants 
are twelve brethren, ipnay. In the same manner, speaking 
of their father Jacob, Genesis, xliv. 27 : TJiy servant my 
father said unto us, 5pa?. So in Isaiah, xxxvi. 11, the style 
of Eliakim, Shebna and Joab with Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray 
thee, unto thy servants, V'^.- 

This is the style of deference, politeness, humility. It may 
be the formal style of equals toward one another in high life, 
or the style of the inferior towards the superior. The effect 
is an elaborate and elegant courtesy toward equals, and a def- 
erential, respectful homage towards superiors. The abrupt- 
ness of an immediate address is prevented, and the form of 
language seems to have the effect of employing an ambassador 
or mediator between potentates. That which, in the courtesy 
of a formal politeness, is connected by us with the signature 


at the bottom of letters, as, your obedient and humble servant, 
or, faith f uUy and truly your friend and servant, the men of 
the East applied in daily conversation. See, for example, Da- 
vid's interview with Saul, 1 Samuel, xvii. 34 : Thy servant kept 
his father's sheep, etc. Also, David's conversation with Jon- 
athan, 1 Samuel, xx. 7, 8 : Thou shalt deal kindly with thy 
servant. Also, Abigail's address to David, 1 Samuel, xxv. 
24-31 : When the Lord shall have dealt well with my lord, 
then remember thine handmaid. And likewise David's address 
to Achish, 1 Samuel, xxviii. 2 : Surely thou shalt know what 
thy servant can do. See also Daniel, i. 12 : Prove thy serv- 
ants. Also ii. 7, the address of the Chaldean astrologers to 
the king : Let the king tell his servants the dream. 

Now to trace the delicate distinctions of intercourse in the 
use or neglect of such a form, and the manner in which the m 
necessity of an independent spirit may compel its abandon- 
ment, let the reader mark the fact that Shadrach, Meshach, 
and Abednego, in their interview with Nebuchadnezzar, when 
they encountered the rage and authority of the king in full 
conflict with the authority of God, threw aside utterly the 
formal and deferential mode of address, and exclaimed, in the 
first person : " O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer 
thee in this matter. Be it known unto thee, O king, that Ave 
will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which 
thou hast set up." This defiance of the tyrant was far more 
bold, direct, and energetic, than if they had said : " The 
king's servants will not worship the image of the king." But 
their indignation annulled this form of homage, and even the 
intimation of being the king's servants, so grateful to the 
sense of power, they rejected from their language, and, rising 
to the dignity of equals and of freemen, they said : We, O 
king, will not obey thee, be it known unto thee. We will not 
serve thy gods. It was much as when, with us, to make de- 
fiance stronger, it is added, I tell thee to thy face, I will not 
heed thee. 


But this deferential form is more especially and commonly 
the usage of the word nay, evedh, in all addresses to God, and 
in prayer. Genesis, xviii. 3 : My Lord, if now I have found 
favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy serv- 
ant. And so 1 Kings, viii. 28-32 and 1 Chronicles, xvii. 17-19 : 
What can David speak more to thee for the honor of thy serv- 
ant, for thou knowest thy servant ? So Psalm xxvii. 9 : Put 
not thy servant away in anger. Psalm xxxi. 1C : Make thy 
face to shine upon thy servant. Daniel, ix. 17:0 our God, 
hear the prayer of thy servant, tj-ay n?£n-VN. 

In the same manner in which the verb nay, avadh, is used 
to signify the service of God, the verbal nay, evedh, is also 
used to signify the servant of God ; whether the application 
be to men of piety generally, those who trust in God, or to 
persons called and appointed of God to particular offices and 
undertakings. Psalm xxxiv. 22 : The Lord redeemeth the soul 
of his servants, i^a? »B?> rnr^ rrrs. Nehemiah, i. 10: Now 
these are thy servants, Sp^a?,. Psalm cv. 42 : He remembered 
Abraham his servant, 'ray. Psalm cv. 26 : He sent Moses, his 
sen-ant, Sua*. So likewise the verbal Jrjby, avodha,is used of 
the service of God, and of his temple, and of the righteous, 
as in Numbers, iv. 47 and Isaiah, xxxii. 17, the verbal nw*to, 
maitseh, from n'sy, to do, beincj here also used as synonymous 
with rnay, avodhath. 1 Chronicles, ix. 13 : Able men for the 
xoork of the service of the house of God, D^rjssrj— n^a rnSay 
h5t£>tt. The expression in Numbers, iv. 47, is illustrative 
KtoM rnajn rnay rn'ay "ia»V, to do the service of the ministry, 
and the service of the burden in the tabernacle of the congre- 

Now then, we have seen how the meaning of the verb -ray, 
avadh, passes from the general idea of labor, to that of serv- 
ice for another, at first for wages, afterwards in bondage. But 
the derivative, the verbal i^y, evedh, is. never used in any 
sense corresponding to the first and generic sense of the verb 
to labor, a laborer. It never means an independent laborer, 


as when it is said that Cain was a tiller of the ground. The 
verb, or participle, has to be used with reference to Cain, and 
not the noun, for as yet, the thing answering to the noun, the 
servant, was not ; there is no mention of service at the will or 
wages of another, no intimation of labor for hire, and no men- 
tion of servants. 

" "When Adam delved, and Eve span, 
"Where was then the serving man ?" 

Cain was a tiller of the ground, Genesis, iv. 2, roana "iss> rrr. 
He was a man tilling the ground, a man cultivating it, but he 
was not a servant. There was labor, but as yet no servitude ; 
it is the participle employed, but not the noun. It is some- 
what remarkable that the noun is never once employed, nor 
does the word servant come into view in the sacred record, 
till after the history of the antediluvian posterity of Adam is 
finished. Doubtless there was the reality of servitude ; there 
must have been oppression in some of its worst forms, for the 
earth was filled with violence ; but there is no intimation of 
slavery, and the example of some modern nations is sufficient 
to show that there may be violence, despotism, and oppression 
of the most terrible nature, even where "the system of per- 
sonal slavery does not exist.* 

* If there had been slavery before Natural Right. Raynal observes 

the deluge this would certainly be no that if Pope Alexander III. had been 

argument in its favor, no more than iuspired with the love of justice and 

than the mention of bond and free in humanity, instead of saying merely 

connection with the Judgment Day. that Christians ought not to be slaves, 

Natural justice and right are as much he would have declared that man 

against slavery as against murder ; was never born for slavery, that none 

both crimes are forms of assassina- can lawfully hold a human being as a 

tion. See the Abbe Ratnal's ener- slave, that if the slave can not break 

getic and powerful reasoning (His- his chains by force, he may flee, and 

toire Philosophique des deux Indes, his pretended master is an assassin 

Vol. VI., 90-112), compared with if ho punishes with death an action 

Gkanville Sharpe's Declaration of authorized by nature. 


First Instance op the "Word foe Servant. — The Curse upon Canaan not Slav- 
ery, but National Dominion. — Egypt after Five Hundred Years from the 
Deluge. — Words used for Maid-Servants. 

The curse pronounced upon Canaan contains the first in- 
stance of the use of the word n:=5>, evedh, Genesis, ix. 25, a 
servant of servants, fna?. las?. No mention had been made 
of servants or slaves in the whole antediluvian history. There 
were neither servants nor slaves in the ark. There was no 
slave upon the earth when God entered into covenant with 
Noah. The whole earth was peopled with freemen, for God 
would have the new experiment begin with such, and the 
curse of servitude, predicted and denounced as a curse, grew 
directly out of sin. " Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants 
shall he be unto his brethren." 


The use of the word tas, evedh, by Noah, as a word of deg- 
radation, a word of inferiority and subjection, the meaning 
of which was well understood, shows that the thing indicated 
by it was not then a new and strange thing. At the same 
time the after history of the word, and its indiscriminate ap- 
plication to servants in general, and service of all kinds, proves 
conclusively that it was not a specific word for that kind of 
servitude which we call slavery. But if there had been the 
thing there would have been the name, and if Noah had in- 
tended the particidar thing, he would have used the specific 
name. If slavery had existed among the antediluvians, it can 


not be questioned that there would have been a term exclu- 
sively denoting it ; and if Noah had designed to threaten that 
curse, or to predict it, concerning a part of his posterity, he 
would inevitably have used that term, and not a term applied 
to all kinds of service. There is no word for slavery in the 
Hebrew language, answering to our word slavery, nor to the 
Greek word dovXeia, although that word is sometimes em- 
ployed in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew n^a?, 
avodha, as in Exodus, vi. 6, for DJjnasw, from their bondage, 
viz., Egyptian bondage. It is certainly a fact of no unimpor- 
tant significance, that there is no word in Hebrew which spe- 
cifically signifies slave or slavery / and there is the best of all 
reasons for it : the reality did not exist, and from the outset, 
when the language was formed, the root-word labor was of 
necessity taken for service, and from that the various con- 
structions have been formed, and no word for slavery has 
been created. 

In this curse upon Canaan there is, therefore, no proof that 
what we call slavery was intended ; no proof that the state 
of slavery was either in the mind of the speaker, Noah, or in 
the will of God, considered as inspiring the prediction. There 
is, indeed, no declaration that either the curse or the predic- 
tion was God's, no intimation that Noah was inspired of God 
in uttering it, no more than in planting his vineyard ; and 
were it not for the gift of the land of Canaan to Abraham, 
and the subjection of the Canaanites to the Hebrews, there 
would be no reason for supposing a divine inspiration in the 
case, since there is no reference anywhere to the prediction 
as inspired. But whether it were or not, it is not probable 
that the word servant, used by Noah, had the signification 
sometimes attached to it a thousand years afterwards. They 
assume too much who suppose that slavery existed among the 
antediluvians, there being not the least trace of it, and no 
more proof of it than that the immediate posterity of Adam 
were idolaters. It is most likely that man-stealing and man- 


selling came into practice along with idolatry, fit accompani- 
ments or consequences of such wickedness, after the deluge. 

The use of the words ns?>, evedh, servant, and f"=". i^y, 
evedh avadhirn, servants, by Noah, can not, therefore, be as- 
sumed to mean any thing more than servants and under- 
servants, even were the passage applied in a personal sense, 
■which, however, is not the sense of the prediction. 

It is applied, as in many other cases, to the subjection of 
nations. The same word precisely is used by Isaac in regard 
to the dominion of Jacob over Esau, Jacob's posterity being 
the subject of Isaac's prediction as the dominant power. 
Genesis, xxvii. 37 : All his brethren have I given to him for 
servants, b^ssV. I have made him (Jacob) thy lord, tos. 
This did not mean that Jacob and his posterity were to be 
slaveholders, and Esau and his posterity slaves, but that one 
nation should be under the government of the other. Let 
people serve thee, bi»? t)i~i?:, Genesis, xxvii. 29. Just so in 
the original prediction, Genesis, xxv. 23 : TJie elder shall 
serve the younger, nhr;, yaavodh ; nation in subjection to na- 
tion / the phrase employed by Gesenius is pqpulus populo ; 
people shall be tributary to people. The prediction in the 
blessing given to Esau, as well as that to Jacob, and the com- 
pletion of both, leave no doubt as to the meaning of the word, 
and the nature of the service designed. See Genesis, xxvii. 
40 : Thou shedt serve thy brother, "bsp tphN, but shalt break 
his yoke from off thy neck. So accordingly in 2 Samuel, 
viii. 14, the posterity of Esau are recorded as in subjection 
to the posterity of Jacob, but not as slaves. David put gar- 
risons in Edom, and all they of Edom became David's serv- 
ants, cms, avadhim. But in 2 Kings, viii. 22, it is recorded 
that under the reign of Jehoram, 892 B.C., Edom revolted from 
under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves. 
This kind of service and rebellion is recorded in similar lan- 
guage in Genesis, xiv. 4 : Twelve yeai-s they served Chedor- 
laomer, my, avdhu y in the thirteenth, rebelled, i"i"ft}, meiradhu. 



After Genesis, ix. 25, it is full five hundred years before we 
meet the word nsy, evedh, again, or any indication that the 
reality answering to it exists in human society ; and then we 
meet it first in the family of Abraham, or rather, first of all, 
in the family of Pharaoh, where Abraham for a season resided. 
After Abraham went down into Egypt, and was received into 
Pharaoh's house, and entreated well, he is represented, Genesis, 
xii. 16, as having sheep and oxen, and he-asses, and men-serv- 
ants, -••■py, avadkim, and via id-servants, nhBtn, shephahoth. 
Here we have, as yet, no commentary on the word, nothing 
by which we might be permitted to imagine or assert that 
these in Abraham's family were slaves. Hagar, Sarah's hand- 
maid, was an Egyptian ; and, doubtless, was taken into Abra- 
ham's household, and given to Sarah, in this, his first visit to 
Egypt. But Abraham did not go down into Egypt to copy 
Egyptian manners, or to adopt into his own household, and 
set at the foundation of the domestic and national policy, of 
which the divine Being had informed him he was to be the 
stock, the civil and social principles and customs of a people 
of idolaters. He had gone on compulsion into Egypt, by 
reason of the great famine ; but his idea of the morals and 
manners of the Egyptians may be gathered from his anxiety 
and distress in behalf of Sarah, Genesis, xii. 11, 12. He knew 
that the fear of God Avas not in Egypt. The cpxestion, there- 
fore, very naturally comes up: Did Abraham, on receiving 
these men-servants and maul-servants into his household, re- 
ceive and treat them according to the principles of servitude 
then prevalent in Egypt? The consideration of the nature 
of God's covenant with Abraham will enable us the better to 
determine this question. 


But, in the meantime, let us suspend our inquiry as to the 
word iay, evedh, and consider the meaning of the two words 


applied to Hagar, and designating her situation in Abraham's 
family. These are the Hebrew words nhEtr;, shiphhah, and n»», 
amah. Hagar is first introduced to us under the name fttivo, 
shiphhah, Genesis, xvi. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, and under this name 
Sarah gives her to Abraham to be his wife, and by her Ishmael 
is born unto him, and the condition of Ishmael has no taint of 
bondage from the condition of his mother. The Hebrew pa- 
triarchs neither held nor sold their own children for slaves. 

Some fifteen years after Hagar's first appearance as a nh£& 
shiphhah, Sarah, enraged at the mocking of Hagar's son Ish- 
mael, calls her hen, amah, rendered by our translators a bond- 
woman, and her son the son of a bondwoman, Genesis, xxi. 10. 
But there is no reason for translating this word bondwoman 
rather than servant. God, speaking to Abraham concerning 
the whole transaction, calls her mss, amah, most generally 
translated handmaid or maid-servant, and says to Abraham, 
" Of the son of the handmaid, fiBNsr—ja, ben-haamah, will I 
make a nation." Now this same word hex, amah, is used in 
Psalm cxvi. 1G, of the mother of David: I am thy servant, and 
the son of thine handmaid, ijrjttx— ja, ben-amathekha. It is 
also used by Hannah, 1 Samuel, i. 11, addressing the Lord: 
Look on the affliction of thine handmaid, SjfJfcK, amathehha, 
repeated in the same verse three times. Also, addressing Eli, 
1 Samuel, i. 16 : Count not thine handmaid, Tftx. This usage 
corresponds with that of the word nrij?, evedh, under similar 
circumstances. But in the eighteenth verse, also addressing 
Eli, she says: Let thine handmaid, ^nfiB.sJ, shiphhathekha, find 
grace in thy sight. It is obvious, therefore, that the words 
rocN, amah, and nhsto, shiphhah, are synonymous, one being no 
more indicative of a state of bondage than the other. An- 
other instance of the use of both interchangeably is in 1 Sam- 
uel, xxv. 41, in Abigail's address to David: Behold, let thine 
handmaid, ^msn, amah, be for a servant, nnstt;^, shiphhah, to 
wash the feet of the servants, ina», avdhei, of my Lord. Here, 
then, are these two words, at periods of nearly a thousand 


years' distance, employed in the same manner, applied to the 
same persons. The impossibility of making a distinction be- 
tween the two, as to dignity, will be further evident by exam- 
ining the following passages: 

Genesis, xx. 14: And Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and 
men-servants and women-servants, nhse»i ta"»na»5, evedh and 
shiphhah, and gave to Abraham. 

Genesis, xx. 17 : God healed Abimelech, and his maid-serv- 
ants, vtffrflaKi, amah. 

Genesis, xii. 1G: Abram had men-servants and maid-serv- 
ants, nh£ii, shiphhah. 

Genesis, xxi. 10: Cast out this bondwoman, masn, amah. 

* ' T T T 7 

Genesis, xxx. 43 : Jacob had maidservants, iViftsti, shiphhah. 

Genesis, xxxi. 33 : Jacob's maid-servants' 1 tents, nfna«, amah. 

Exodus, xi. 5 : The first-born of the maid-servant, nhsain, 

Exodus, xx. 10 : Man-servant nor maidservant, ^ira& amah. 

Exodus, xxiii. 12: The son of thine handmaid, ^jMssr- js, 

Deuteronomy, v. 14 : Man-servant or maid-servant, S[*j»s, 
amah ; also xii. 18; xv. 17 ; xvi. 11, 14. 

Exodus, xxi. 7 : If a man sell his daughter to be a maid- 
servant, T02*h, amah. 

Exodus, xxi. 27, 32 : Man-servant or maid-servant, mass, 

Judges, ix. 18 ; Jotham calls Abimlech the son of his father's 
maid-servant, infcs— }a, amah, who was his father's concubine 
at Shechem. 

Ruth, ii. 13, applied by Ruth to herself and the hand- 
maidens of Boaz, ^haw, shiphhah. 

Ruth, iii. 9, used by Ruth twice, thy handmaid, ^rpx, amah. 

1 Samuel, xxv. 14 : Let thine handmaid, tjritoN, amah. 

1 Samuel, xxv. 25 : But I thine handmaid, 'jtyax, amah. 

1 Samuel, xxv. 27 : Thine handmaid hath brought, ^heo, 


1 Samuel, xxv. 28: Trespass of thine handmaid, 5f$o», 

1 Samuel, xxv. 31 : Remember thine handmaid, Sfftiwt, amah. 

1 Samuel, xxv. 41 : Let thine handmaid, r^tz^, be a servant, 
ni-istV, shiphhah. 

2 Samuel, xiv\ 15 : Thy handmaid, ^fiftBfc, shiphhah. 

2 Samuel, xiv. 15 : The request of his handmaid, totes, 

2 Samuel, xiv. 16 : To deliver his handmaid, sn^N, amah. 

2 Samuel, xiv. 17 : Thine handmaid said, ^rtjaw, shiphhah. 

2 Samuel, xiv. 19 : The mouth of thine handmaid, ^n.rrsti, 

2 Samuel, xiv. G, 7, 12 : Thine handmaid, Sjnrsw, shiphhah. 

2 Samuel, xvi. 20 : Handmaids, of his servants, i"nas n'nrrtsN, 

2 Samuel, vi. 22, David calls the same, maid-servants, 
nSnteNn, amah. 

Job, xxxi. 13 : My maid-servant, ims«, amah. 

Jeremiah, xxxiv. 9, 10, 11, 10, the same word is used six 
times, singular and plural, for maid-servants of the Hebrews, 
coupled with men-servants, "snhittj rnrr&ttSn, shiphhah. 

These instances determine the usage of the words. They 
are evidently used for precisely the same relation, being each 
applied, indifferently, to the maid-servant, whether Hebrew or 
heathen, just as the word iss, evedh, is applied to the man- 
servant. Neither word seems to indicate a higher grade than 
the other, Job using mxjn, amah, Jeremiah nhBtJ, shiphhah, and 
Moses fiKN, amah and firisto, shiphhah, indiscriminately, for per- 
sons held as maid-servants, both Hebrew and heathen, and the 
usage in Samuel putting both words indifferently into the 
mouths of free women, speaking of themselves. 


The Septuagint translation uses the word naidtOKn for both 
the Hebrew words, rwN, amah, and rtrjB», shiphhah. The same 


word is used of Ruth, where the Hebrew is the feminine of 
■wa, naar, a young man, na^n rny.a.v, this young woman. So 
Ruth is the Traidionw as well as Hagar. Also, of all the maidens 
of Boaz the same word is used, as in Ruth, ii. 22 : His maidens, 
•prn-iss, his young women, and ii. 23 : The maidens of Boaz, 
ts'a h'"H?.$, the young women, Boaz himself uses the same 
word, ii. 8 : My maidens, ■ , n ( i3>5, my young women or damsels. 
And in ii. 5, G, Boaz asks concerning Ruth, whose damsel she 
is ? msa, and the servant answers, the Moabitish damsel, 
rvixMi n-i'j, young woman. 

But in the New Testament, the same word, Traidiaicn, is em- 
ployed in contrast with the word kXevQepaq, with reference to 
the case of Hagar, Galatians, iv. 22, the servant in contrast 
with the free woman, the word servant being translated bond- 
woman, though the same is in other places simply translated 
servant or damsel or maid, as in Matthew, xvi. G9, Mark, xiv. 
66 : One of the maids of the high priest, \iia ru>v -naidian&v 
rov 'Ap^teptwc. If this had been translated one of the bond- 
women of the high priest, it would have been an unjustifiable 
assumption, if by the term bondwoman were signified slave. 
The ordinary usage in the New Testament may be learned 
from Matthew, xxvi. 69; Mark, xiv. 66, 69; Luke, xii. 45, 
xxii. 56; John, xviii. 17 ; Acts, xii. 13, xvi. 16. Only in one 
of these cases is it clear that the word probably signifies a 
slave, and that is the case in Acts, xvi. 16, of the damsel pos- 
sessed of the spirit of divination, who brought much gain to 
her masters, who were pagans, idolaters. On the other hand, 
the word dovXn is used only three times, Luke, i. 38, 48, and 
Acts, ii. 18, in all three, spoken of servants and handmaidens 
of the Lord. 

It is, therefore, impossible to determine, merely from the 
word 'TTaidioicr], the exact condition signified : for the term in 
the New Testament, though it implies service, in a state of 
servitude, does not imply necessarily bond-service or slavery, 
but may be used also of a free person hired, a hired servant, 



as the "pste, saJcir, of the Hebrews, or also a free maiden, in 
no respect under servitude. As applied to Hagar, the term 
used by Sarah in the Old Testament, and by Paul in the New, 
would seem to apply more directly and specifically to her orig- 
inal condition among the Egyptians, and not to her state in 
the family of Abraham. In Abraham's family, and as his wife, 
she certainly was not his bond-servant or slave ; and the sar- 
casm of Sarah is directed to her foumer state, out of which 
she had been raised, and especially when presented by Sarah 
to Abraham to be his wife.* 

* Two points are to be specially re- 
garded iu considering Ilagar's con- 
dition. 1. The name given to her 
bears no indication of slavery. Some 
have derived it from tho Hebrew for 
stranger, so that Ilagar's name would 
mean this stranger. But Gesenius 
gives as its definition the word flight, 
from an unused root signifying to flee. 
Hence, also, the Hegira, for the 
flight of Mahomet. But as Hagar 
bore this name before her flight from 
Sarah, it is more likely to have been 
the name of a stranger. 

2. Her condition as a servant, 
whatever it might have been, conveys 
no taint of servitude or subjection to 
her offspring. If, therefore, it could 
be imagined that modern slaveholders 
are justified in holding slaves, be- 
cause Abraham held Hagar, they are 

also bound by the same example to 
give freedom to the children of their 
slaves. If they claim a divine per- 
mission they must take the whole rule 
or none. They must strike out from 
their code the infamous principle, in- 
troduced from Pagan slavery, but 
baptized by Christians (so called) as a 
rule of justice, piety and divine the- 
ology, that partus sequitur ventrem. 
In fine, if Abraham's example with 
Hagar were followed, the whole sys- 
tem of slavery would come to an end 
in a moment. It is nothing but the 
savage brand of Paganism, conveying 
the act and quality of man-stealing, 
as a legal right upon tho posterity of 
the stolen parents, and adopted by 
Christianity (so called) as a right and 
a missionary virtue, that sustains tho 


Wobd-Analysts Througii the Life of Abraham.— Meaning of Sorts Gotten m 
Hakan.— Usage of Phkases for Domestic Service. — No Intimations of Slav- 
ery in Domestic Life. — Principles of Justice and Equity. — Abraham's Serv- 
ants not Bound by Compulsion. 

"We continue now our investigation by tracing the words of 
service in their usage, renewing thus our analysis of the house- 
hold of Abraham in a somewhat varied light. The repetition 
of references, which becomes necessary, may be endured, in con- 
sideration of the necessity of confirming every part of our argu- 
ment, leaving no position at hazard, no citadel unoccupied, or in 
the hands of the enemy. Following the word-analysis through 
the life of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the next step is found 
in Genesis, xiv. 14, 15 : Abram armed his trained ones, as our 
ti-anslation has it, bom in his own house, '.iva ■n'fcj v* 1 ^. 
There were in number three hundred and eighteen ; and he 
divided himself against the enemy, he and his servants, 

In this passage, the word jpih, hanihh, the verbal from 
Sj:h, instructed ones, experienced, proved, seems to be used as 
synonymous with na», evedh, servant, and both words are 
equivalent with '.rvo "^V, yelidhe betho, the bom in his own 
house, the sons of his house. In the twenty-fourth verse the 
same are called young men, d^ssri, that which the young men 
have eaten. These young men, though born in Abraham's 
house, were not slaves, and an examination of the circum- 
stances of the case, and of the phrases rp:i t>V, yelidh beth, 
the born of the house, and IT'S— "ja, ben-beth, the son of the 
house, will show the extreme mistake of defining either of 


these expressions as signifying necessarily a slave ; for Hebrew 
servants might be the bom of the house, but could not under 
any circumstances be slaves. 

In Genesis, xv\ 3, the phrase used is ■»*}">»""■ \$, ben-bethi, the 
sou of my house, one bom in my house is mine heir. 

But it is clear that at this time Abraham had other servants 
besides those born in his house ; at a previous period he had 
received such in Egypt, where, as a consequence of Pharaoh's 
favor, he had men-servants and maul-servants, or an increas- 
ing number of them. 

In Genesis, xii. 5, there is mention of the souls that Abram 
aud Lot had gotten in Haran. Not unfrequently the mon- 
strous assumption has been taken, without one particle of 
evidence, without even an intimation looking that way, that 
these souls meant slaves, that they were such. With just as 
much authority we might presume and assert that the cattle 
spoken of as Abraham's and Lot's property, meant souls, and 
that when it is affirmed that they increased their substance, 
the word substance means souls. The Chaldee paraphrasts 
maintain a much more likely assumption, when they insist that 
the souls gotten were proselytes gained by Abraham to the 
true faith. We might with superior propriety assume that 
the phrase means persons whom Abraham was able to per- 
suade to go forth with him from his own country to the 
promised land.* At Bethel they were so rich in cattle and 
silver and gold, in flocks and herds and tents, that the land 
was not able to bear them together, and the quarrels among 
their herdmen led to their separation. At this period they 

* Smith's Sacred Annals, Patri- had gotten in Haran' (verse 5), use 

archal Age, page 448 : " Many com- these words, ' the souls of those 

mentators believed that Abram not whom they proselyted in Ilaran.* 

only worshiped God in his family, Abraham was certainly called away 

but diligently taught his name and from all idolatrous influence, that he 

his law to those with whom he came might bo a witness for the truth to 

in contact. Hence the Chaldee para- all the nations with which he came in 

phrasts, when rendering the clause as contact." Page 439. 
given by Moses, ' the souls that they 


were nomadic chiefs, and those that were born in their tents 
belonged to their households, and were dependent upon 
them under the guardianship and care of the patriarchal au- 
thority. A patriarchal community that could muster three 
hundred and eighteen young men to bear arms, born under 
Abraham's government, and under allegiance of service to 
him, must have been numerous ; and, besides these depend- 
ents, he had other servants obtained with money of the stran- 
ger ; among these his herdmen may have been comprised, for 
the phrase bought with money was applied, as we have seen, 
to such a purchase or contract as secured the right to their 
time and labor for a limited period. In regard to the Hebrews, 
this is clearly demonstrated from the very first law on record 
in this matter, Exodus, xxi. 2 : If thou buy a Hebrew servant, 
six years he shall serve, n?.j?r^ ■»&, if thou buy, the same word 
being used as in the description of the portion of Abraham's 
household designated as bought with money. Parents were 
accustomed sometimes thus to sell the services of their chil- 
dren. It was something like the purchase of apprentices, or 
the contract of an apprenticeship for a number of years. 
Hosea bought his wife, Hosea, iii. 2. The term t^a-ftspte, 
miknath keseph, bought with money, or the purchase of 
money, does not, therefore, necessarily imply an unlimited 
servile sale; and, as we shall see, a restriction was finally 
imposed on all such transactions by the laws of jubilee, ren- 
dering the system of what we call slavery impossible. 

Here, then, are three phrases demanding careful considera- 
tion : rna vtyy, yelidh beth, h"»5H5j ben-beth, and fc)&s-hsj>tej and 
miknath-keseph. In Ecclesiastes, ii. 7, we have the rv^n— ,s, ben- 
beth, thus: I acquired servants and maidens, rr.nsci D^a:?, and 
sons of my house were mine, 15 n-n h^a— »iax In Genesis, xv. 3, 
a son of my house is mine heir, ^a— j ;a. These two phrases, 
n-n tV\ yelidh beth, and rpri— ja, ben-beth, seem to be nearly 
synonymous, but the iva—js, ben-beth, the son of the house, is 
descriptive of a class of servants more affectionately attached, 


and enjoying greater privileges, with greater confidence re- 
posed in them. The whole three hundred and eighteen of 
Abraham's young men are called ma *nV?, yelidh beth, born 
of the house, that is, of the families under his authority and 
patriarchal government and care ; but the h'O—ja, ben-bet h, 
the son of his house, who might be his heir, may have been of 
his own immediate household. In Genesis, xvii. 12, 13, 23, 27, 
in the detail of the covenant of circumcision, and the execu- 
tion of that rite on all born in Abraham's house, the phrase 
used is rvo t^* : , yelidh beth. Elsewhere it is very seldom 
found, once in Leviticus, xxii. 11, concerning the priest's 
family, and who in it may, and who may not, eat of the holy 
things; no stranger, nor any sojourner, nor any mere hired 
servant of the priest shall eat thereof; but the servant bought 
with his money, and he that is bom in his house, irca t^'i, 
yelidh betho, may eat of it. The hired servant was not re- 
garded as an inseparable part and fixture of the priest's 
family, in the same manner as the servant born in his house 
was, and had not the same privileges. A hired servant 
might be a foreigner, but a servant born in the house 
was a native of the land, and might be also a native He- 

Neither can this phrase, bom of the house, with safety or 
correctness be assumed as always specifically implying serv- 
itude of any kind, or a servile state ; for it might be right the 
opposite. It might be used of freemen as well as servants, 
and of the children of the master and mistress of the house. 
In Leviticus, xviii. 9, a similar phrase is employed of the 
daughter of the family, daughter of thy mother, bom of thy 
house, rra n-V"» M ,3 .^"" n: ?- ^ n Jeremiah, ii. 14, it has been 
sivpposed to be used as synonymous, or nearly so, with nay, 
evedh. Is Israel a servant, nay ? evedh. Is he a home-bom, rra 
T>y>-CiN ? yelidh beth. But these words are not synonymes, 
and a very different translation of this verse is possible, as 
may be seen in the note of Blayney, in his translation and 


commentary on this prophet, a passage which is worthy of 
consideration. He translates Jeremiah, ii. 14, thus : Is Israel 
a slave f Or if a child of the household, wherefore is he ex- 
posed to spoil? And he remarks " that h^a t>*£, yelidh beth, 
answers to the Latin word filius familias, and stands opposed 
to a slave. The same distinction is made Galatians, iv. 7, 
and an inference drawn from it in a similar manner : 'Where- 
fore thou art no more a servant (a slave), but a son ; and if a 
son, then an heir of God through Christ.' As Christians 
now, so the Israelites heretofore, were the children of God's 
household ; and if so, they seemed entitled to his peculiar care 
and protection." 

The passage is susceptible of this rendering. Is Israel a 
servant, is*? evedh ; but if a home-born, rra t^v-sk, yelidh 
beth, why is he yet spoiled? If he were an ns$, evedh, merely, 
he might be expected to be rigorously treated, to be carried 
into captivity, and " sold with the selling of a bondman." 
But if a home-born, then under a care and privilege, which 
would preserve him from such treatment. The ordinary in- 
terpretation is different, grounded on the idea that the ques- 
tion is equivalent to a negation. Israel is not a servant, nei- 
ther -is?, evedh, nor n?a t»V>.? yelidh beth, but is God's own son, 
and free born. Why then is he become a prey ? Because of 
his own wickedness. 

That the phrase tra t»V.i yelidh beth, does not necessarily 
mean a servant, or a bondman in contradistinction from a 
freeman, appears from Genesis, xvii. 27. After relating the 
circumcision of Abraham, and Ishmael his son, it is added that 
all the men of his house, bom in his house, and bought with 
money of the stranger, were circumcised with him. It is ab- 
surd to suppose that of all Abraham's dependent community 
or tribe, for such are the households here designated, not one 
male was accounted a freeman. Every male among the men 
of Abraham's house was circumcised, and all the men of 
Abraham's house are divided into these two classes only, born 



in the house, or bought with money of the stranger. In the 
next chapter, xviii. 7, Abraham is described as fetching a calf 
from the herd, and giving it to a young man, "ijw, to dress it. 
This young man was in Abraham's service, of Abraham's 
household, but there is no intimation whatever of his being in 
the condition of a slave. In fine, we might as well assert that 
our domestic household animal, the cat, was precisely the same 
animal with the South American jaguar or the Bengal tiger, 
as assume that the servants of Abraham's household were 
what we call slaves. There might be families beneath his pa- 
triarchal authority, neither the head nor the children of which, 
though born in his house, dependent on him, as the rva t>V*i 
yelidh beth, were in any condition approximating to that of 

* The history of the word slave is 
instructive. Gibbon, in his 55th 
chapter, traces it to the captivity of 
" the Sclavonian, or more properly 
Slavonian, race." "From the Euxine 
to the Adriatic, in the state of cap- 
tives, or subjects, or allies, or ene- 
mies of the Greek empire, they over- 
spread the land ; and the national 
appellation of the Slaves has been 
degraded by chance or malice from 
the signification of glory to that of 

"This conversion of a national into 
an appellative name appears to have 
arisen in the eighth century in the 
oriental France, where the princes 
and bishops were rich in Sclavonian 
captives. From thence the word was 
extended to general use, to the mod- 
ern languages, and oven to the stylo 
of the last Byzantines (see the Greek 
and Latin glossaries of Ducange.) 
The confusion of the 2ep/32.oi, or 
Servians, with the Latin Servi, 
was still more fortunate and famil- 
iar." — Gibbon's Decline and Fall, 
chap. 55. 

The only instance in which the 
word slave has been intruded in our 
English translation of the Hebrew 
Scriptures is that of Jeremiah, ii. 14, 
where the confession that thero is no 
such word in the original was made 
by the translators themselves, in put- 
ing the word slave in italics. The origi- 
nal reads, " Is he a home bom ?" Tho 
translators added, " Is he a home- 
born slave .?" This was a most singu- 
larly unauthorized and contradictory 
assertion. It amounted to an interpo- 
lation in the translation, and by 
means of it, of the falsehood that thero 
was, or might be, under the Hebrew 
constitution, such a thing as a slave 
and such a domestic iniquity as that 
of slavery. 

The origin of the word sebvus is 
better known, from the custom of 
preserving for sale tho captives taken 
in war, who were, therefore, from the 
verb servare, to preserve, denominated 
servi, the preserved. "The words ser- 
vus and mancipiuni designated slaves 
so made ; servus, as having boen pre- 
served by the victor, a victore servatus, 



From the building of Babel to the time of Terah, Abra- 
ham's father, it was but two hundred years, and during this 
period there is not the slightest intimation of any such vast 
social inequality in the community as that of slavery on the 
one hand and freedom on the other ; nor is there time and 
scope, nor are there causes sufficient, in the generations of 
Shem, to produce such a condition, where the population was 
sparse, and the whole race, within little more than three gen- 
erations, on a perfect equality. It is easy to conceive how 
the habits of patriarchal government and life could arise and 
be established, but that a state of slavery should become the 
social state, while Noah and his family were still living, is in- 

or, according to some etymologists, 
from the Greek root, Ipu, or epvu, to 
drag, to rescue from death; manci- 
pium, from a manu capere, to take 
captive with the hand." — Fuss. Ro- 
man Antiq., chap, i., sec. liii. 

See, also, Edwards' Roman Slav- 
ery, in the sixth volume of the Bib- 
lical Repository, 411 : "The origin of 
the word servus" says Augustine, de 
Civit., lib. xix., chap, xv., "is under- 
stood to be derived from the fact that 
prisoners, who, by the laws of war, 
might have been put to death, were 
preserved by the victors, and made 

Now, our modern kidnappers and 
slaveholders, with the new and gra- 
cious theory of being the honored in- 
struments of God's missionary provi- 
dence of salvation to the Africans by 
means of the merciful reduction of 
them to slavery, and consequent in- 
troduction to Christianity, might take 
a hint from these etymologies, and 
establish for themselves and their 
victims a new nomenclature, com- 
memorative of piety and love. In- 
stead of being named pirates, the 
kidnappers should be called mission- 

ary pioneers, and their victims, instead 
of being called slaves, should be called 
translated ones, not servi, but salvati, 
and the slaveholders should be called 
salvatores, saviours. To designate the 
subjects of such providential mission- 
ary grace, the old word salvages might 
be re-adopted in our language, to sig- 
nify persons transported from the con- 
dition of savages to the state of salva- 
tion. Or, the kidnappers might be 
designated as Redemptionists, and the 
slaveholders as Ministrants and Guar- 
dians for them who are the heirs of 
such a salvation. And inasmuch as 
tho children of those thus providen- 
tially redeemed from savage freedom 
in Africa are appointed for ever to the 
salvation of slavery in America, from 
which state of salvation they never 
can be plucked away, the heirs of this 
salvation might be named consecrated 
ones, or, better still, conserved, and tho 
owners of the conserved race might 
appropriate to themselves the much- 
abused term Conservatives. Are they 
not all ministering spirits, sent forth 
to minister unto them who shall bo 
heirs of such salvation ? 


credible. There are no intimations of slavery in Betbuel'a 
family, nor in Laban's after him, in Mesopotamia. "We find 
Rachel feeding her father's sheep, and performing servile 
labor, and all the indications are of a simple social life, in 
which slavery was unknown. Up to the time of his sojourn 
in Canaan, Abraham had been engaged in no wars or preda- 
tory excursions, so that that which was afterwards so preg- 
nant a source of captivity and slavery, did not in his family 
exist, and indeed the very first war in which we find him a 
conqueror, we find him also refusing to hold any of the con- 
quered as his captives. There was no black color as yet to 
stigmatize a servile race as the legitimate property of the 
white races. There were no laws by which free persons might 
be seized and sold for their jail-fees, not being able to prove 
their freedom. In short, a more gross and gratuitous assump- 
tion can hardly be imagined than that the three hundred 
and eighteen young men born and trained under Abraham's 
jurisdiction, of his household, were slaves! The tie between 
him and them Avas assuredly not of compulsion, or oppression, 
or legal chattelism, but of service and obedience, at least as 
justly required, and freely yielded, as that of hereditary clans 
in Scotland, or tribes and families in Arabia. 

The other phrase, qo3-ri5|;», miknath keseph, Genesis, xvii. 
12, the possession of money, the thing bought xoith money, is 
applied to any acquisition gained by purchase, and also to the 
price paid. In Genesis, xxiii. 9, 18, 20, it is used as synony- 
mous with n-jhN, the jiossession of his burying-place. Accord- 
ing to the use of the verb n:^, kanah, to buy, from which it is 
derived, it would be suitably applied to acquisitions transitory 
as well as permanent, and to attainments of the mind as well 
as earthly riches. The same verb ni]?, kanah, to buy, as we have 
before noted, is applied by Boaz to his purchase of the field that 
Avas Elimelech's, and also to his purchase of Ruth herself to be 
his wife. I have bought, wsj?, all that was Elimelech's, more- 
over, Ruth have I purchased, Nrys)?, to be my wife. It is also 



applied, Proverbs, iv. 7, to the acquisition of wisdom. Prov- 
erbs, xv. 32, to the getting of understanding. So also xvi. 16, 
and xix. 8. It is applied in Isaiah, xi. 11, to the Lord's recov- 
ering of people. Cain's name, ■)?£, that is, gotten from the Lord, 
was given because Eve said, Genesis, iv. 1, "^J?, I have gotten 
a man from the Lord. In Psalm lxxviii. 54, God is said to 
have purchased, nmj?, this mountain with his right hand. And 
in Proverbs, viii. 22 : God is said to have possessed wisdom in 
the beginning, ^i;j5, kanani* 

* Barnes' Inquiry into the Scrip- 
tural Views op Slavery, chap. iiL, 
p. 75. " The word bought occurs in a 
transaction between Joseph and the 
people of Egypt^ in sucli a way as 
further to explain its meaning. "When, 
during the famine, the money of the 
Egyptians had failed, and Joseph had 
purchased all the land, the people pro- 
posed to become his servants. When 
the contract was closed, Joseph said 
to them, ' Behold, I have bought you — 
■>rv , :p T , kanithi — this day, and your 
land, for Pharaoh.' Genesis, xlvii. 23. 
The nature of this contract is immedi- 

ately specified. They were to be re- 
garded as laboring for Pharaoh. The 
land belonged to him, and Joseph 
furnished the people with seed, or 
stocked the land, and they were to 
cultivate it on shares for Pharaoh. 
The fifth part was to be his, and the 
other four parts were to be theirs. 
There was a claim on them for labor, 
but it does not appear that the claim 
extended further. No farmers, now, 
who work land on shares, would be 
willing to have their condition de- 
scribed as one of slavery." 


The Servile Relation for Money no Proof of Slavery. — Two Methods of a 
Hebrew Selling Himself. — No Slavery in Either. — Sons of tiie House 
Never Slaves. — Argument from Moses to Abraham. — Abraham's Steward, 
the Elder of his House. — Elders of the Land. — In no Sense a Slave. — Slav- 
ery Impossible, Along with the Principles of Justice and Equity Revealed 
to Abraham. 

It is clear, then, that the circumstance of the servile rela- 
tion being acquired by money, and called the purchase or pos- 
session of money, did not necessarily constitute it slavery, any 
more than the purchase of a wife constituted her a slave, or 
the purchase of wisdom constituted that a slave. Abraham 
could acquire a claim upon the service of a man during his 
life by purchase from himself; he could acquire the allegiance 
of a man and his family, and of all that should be born in the 
family, by similar contract, not to be broken but by mutual 
agreement ; and, in this way, in the course of years he might 
have a vast household under his authority, born in his house 
and purchased with his money, but not one of them a slave. 
He might in the same way purchase of the stranger whatever 
claim the stranger possessed to the service of the person thus 
sold, and yet the person thus transferred to Abraham's house- 
hold might be a voluntary party in the transaction, and in no 
sense a slave. It is not possible to suppose that, if a servant 
were offered to Abraham for his purchase, who could say, I 
teas stolen by my master, as Joseph could say, it is not possi- 
ble to suppose that Abraham would consider such a purchase as 
just, or that he could rightfully make such a person his serv- 
ant, without his own consent. There is no intimation what- 


ever of any such unrighteous or compulsory service in Abra- 
ham's household; there is no ground for the supposition that 
he either bought slaves, or traded in slaves, or held slaves in 
any way.* 


In Leviticus, xxv. 47, there is mention of two modes in 
which a poor man might sell himself for a servant, namely, 
being a Hebrew, he might sell himself to a stranger or so- 
journer, or, to the stock of a stranger's family. Here we 
have great light cast on these transactions. The poor man 
sells himself on account of his poverty, but not as a slave. 
He may sell himself not merely to one master, during that 
master's life, but to the stock of the family, firjatfta njisV, as a 
fixture of the household. It is supposable that he might thus 
sell himself with his children, or make a contract for the service 
of his children that might be born to him during the time of 
this stipulation ; and the children so born would be the rv>a 
tV?, the born of the house of his master, or rro 133, the sons 
of the house. But from this contract he might be redeemed 
by any one of his kin, or he might redeem himself, if he were 
able, by returning a just proportion of the price of his sale, 
the price of his services ; and whether redeemed or not, the 

* Kitto's Cyclopaedia, p. 774, Serv- The admirable article from -which 

ants of Abraham : " In no single in- the above paragraph is extracted, 

stance do we find that the patriarchs stands in marked contrast with the 

either gave away or sold their serv- mass of commentators and lexicogra- 

ants, or purchased them of third per- phers on this subject, by the accuracy 

sons. Abraham had servants bought with which it marks distinctions, and 

with money. It has been assumed resists the falsehood of mere assump- 

that they were bought of third par- tions in the place of facts, and the 

ties, whereas, there is no proof that despotism of precedents in the place 

this was the case. The probability is of principle and just law. It was 

that they sold themselves to the pa- contributed to the work by Rev. 

triarch for an equivalent; that is to "William "Wright, M. A. and LL.D., 

say, they entered into voluntary en- of Trinity College, Dublin, the trans- 

gagements to serve him for a longer lator of Seller's Biblical Hermeneu- 

or shorter period of time, in return tics, 
for the money advanced them." 


contract should be binding no longer than up to the period of 
the jubilee. 

In the case of the household of Abraham, the phrase in 
Genesis, xvii. 12, tjo^ n:j5«, the %)ossession or purchase of 
money, is qualified with reference to a stranger only, which is 
not of thy seed. In the twenty-seventh verse, all the men of 
Abraham's house are designated as either bom in the house or 
bought with money of the stranger. They were all circum- 
cised, at the commandment of God. 

But Hebrew servants might also be bought with money, as 
in Exodus, xxi. 2 ; Leviticus, xxv. 47; Deuteronomy, xv. 12 ; 
Jeremiah, xxxiv. 14. 

But only for six years ordinarily could such a purchase bind 
the person bought; the seventh year he was free. Deuteronomy, 
xv. 12; Exodus, xxi. 2. 

He might sell himself, that is, sell his own time and labor, 
for six years. In such a case, as when a master sold him, 
he was a servant bought for money, and distinct from the 
servant born in the house. The rule was the same for men- 
servants and maid-servants. 

Supposing him to have been a married man, and himself 
and his wife sold, and that during their six years of servitude 
they had children born to them, then, in the seventh year, all 
would go free. Supposing his master to have given him a 
wife, if a Hebrew, then his wife could not be retained beyond 
the period of her six years of servitude by law, neither her sons 
nor daughters. But yet, on comparison of Exodus, xxi. 2-6, 
with Leviticus, xxv. 39-41 and 47-54, and Deuteronomy, xv. 
12-18, and Jeremiah, xxxiv. 14, it is manifest that Hebrew 
servants, husbands, wives, and children, might be retained 
under certain conditions, until the year of jubilee, in servitude. 
Many of them, in such cases, would be servants born in the 
house, sons of the house; yet, even then and thus, no master 
could compel them to serve as bond-servants, but they were 
to be treated as hired servants and sojourners. If a man with 


a household already thus composed, should huy a Hebrew serv- 
ant, and give him a wife from among the number of maid- 
servants that were already, by rightful contract, the fixtures 
of his family until the jubilee, then he would have no right, if 
he chose to go out free at the end of his six years, to take away 
his wife and the children she might have borne him ; but they 
were to remain until the jubilee ; and, if he chose not to avail 
himself of this legal privilege of quitting his master's residence 
and service, but preferred to remain with his wife and chil- 
dren, the sons of the house, then he, too, must remain till the 
jubilee. He could not quit, after making this choice, at the 
expiration of another seven years. But all were free in the 
year of jubilee, men, women, and children. 

It is clear, then, that, while the servants born in the house 
might, under certain conditions, be born under a claim of con- 
tinued service till the jubilee, those bought with money could 
be bound only for a period of six years. On the other hand, 
the master was obliged by law to treat those who were under 
servitude until the jubilee as hired servants, giving them their 
stated and covenanted wages. The question then comes up as 
to the specific difference between bond, or rather apprenticed, 
servants and hired servants, and the nature of their respective 
treatment. This we shall have occasion to examine histori- 
cally, in considering the successive developments of the law ; 
but much light may be gained from the examination of the 


But, before considering this, we have to ask how far it is 
safe to draw conclusions as to Abraham's household, from the 
laws made for his posterity more than four hundred years 
after his age. The gross perversions and mistakes made by 
commentators taking the state of things in modern Egypt and 
in pagan Rome, in the horrid prevalence of the lowest and 
most universal slave-life and manners, and carrying that pic- 
ture and those ideas back as supposed originals and illustra- 


tions of the servitude in the time and even the household of 
Abraham, may teach us the necessity of caution. Even the 
words coined out of Roman despotism and slave-customs have 
been taken by lexicographers to interpret Hebrew words that 
had no such meaning ; and hence the assumption with which 
i^y, evedh, and rvzti amah, and rues— ja ben-amah, are some- 
times rendered by mancipium, ver/ia, and slave, when there 
was neither Hebrew word, nor personal chattel answering to 
any such appellative. 

But conclusions and illustrations from the completed theoc- 
racy and system of Hebrew law and life, back to Abraham, as 
chosen and instructed for its beginning, can not be very erro- 
neous. The general principles upon which God would gov- 
ern and train the Hebrew nation were certainly revealed to 
Abraham, along with the great covenant that separated them 
from the heathen world as a peculiar people, and the ap- 
pointed seal of that covenant, in the rite of circumcision. The 
application of that rite to servants as well as masters, and to 
those purchased from the stranger as well as those born in 
the house, and the admission of all to the privileges of the 
same national covenant, was a remarkable equalizing interpo- 
sition, doing away, by itself alone, most of the injustice and 
evil of the system of slavery as it came to exist in the heathen 
world. All were to be instructed in religion, and treated 
with kindness. According to the nature of the Divine law as 
revealed to Abraham, Abraham could not, if obedient to God, 
treat his servants, that were hired of the stranger, with his 
money, or those born in his house, whether obtained in Egypt 
or elsewhere, according to the principles of idolatry and servi- 
tude prevalent in the countries where he traveled and dwelt. 
When they came into his household, they came on very differ- 
ent principles, and under very different regulations, from 
those of the system of an irresponsible despotism, or of what 
we call slavery. 

There is really no such thing as slavery discoverable in 


Abraham's household, though there were servants that had 
been given to him by the most despotic slaveholders then in 
the world, and others whose services were obtained with 
money, of races of strangers, and others, doubtless, who were 
in his family as servants for a stipulated time. But, concern- 
ing his administration of the whole, God declares, " I know 
him, that he will command his children and his household 
after him ; and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice 
and judgment," Genesis, xviii. 19. This is sufficient proof that 
there never was, in Abraham's household, that thing which 
the Romans called mancipium, nor that iniquitous system 
which in modern times we call slavery. His was a system of 
paternal and patriarchal kindness, instruction, and well-regu- 
lated service, but not of enforced and unpaid servitude. It 
was a system of generosity and confidence on one side, and 
of free and affectionate obedience on the other. It w T as nei- 
ther power without right, nor submission without willingness. 
There were no fugitive slave laws, nor any need of them, nor 
do we find traces of any such custom as that of training hounds 
to hunt runaways. It is manifest that a confidence almost 
unlimited w T as reposed by Abraham in the faithfulness and 
contentment of those under his authority. The oldest servant 
of Abraham's house, who ruled over all that he had, and had 
been trained himself under the influence of the laws and man- 
ners of his household, bears witness, by his own character, 
to the nature of the whole system. 

This man was called, Genesis, xxiv. 2, hrpa "jp.T '-ay, his 
eldest servant of his house, or, his servant, the elder of his 
house, the major-domo, the word used being the same em- 
ployed to designate the elders of Israel. In the history of 
Jacob's burial (Genesis, 1. V), we have the same word applied 
to the elders of Pharaoh's house, and all the elders of the 
land of Egypt. "And Joseph went up to bury his father; 
and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the 
elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt" — 


hHVx vp.!, zikney betho, and »-n i*^, zikney arets. If the 
elder of Abraham's household could be assumed to have been 
a slave, because he is designated as a servant, then were also 
the elders of Pharaoh's house, and all the elders of Egypt, 
all the men in authority, the aristocracy and the princes, by 
the same assumption, slaves, for they are all designated as 
Pharaoh's servants. In Genesis, xv. 2, this eldest servant of 
Abraham is called also the steward of his house, W ps>£— sa, 
ben-meshek bethi, the son of possession of my house, for so 
Gesenius renders it, fillus possessionis, p>ossessor of my house. 
This steward of Abraham's house was to be his heir. The 
Septuagint renders it the son of Mesek, vlog Msoek, as being 
the name of a tribe or district in Syria, whence Dammesek, 
or Damascus, the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Da- 

Others again derive the word from a root signifying to 
wander about, to make excursions in search of something, and 
so translate it the son of discursion, that is, the overseer, or 
procurator of the house. But any interpretation is less forced 
and far-fetched than that which assumes this steward and heir 
of Abraham's house to have been a slave, without a solitary 
intimation in the text or context on which such a supposition 
can be built. This elder servant of his house is said to have 
ruled over all that he had, a phrase which answers very well 
to that of the son of possession / and before a son was born 
to Abraham, this eldest servant was to have been his heir. In 
like manner, we find, in Ezekiel, xlvi. 17, an intimation of a 
prince giving a gift of his inheritance to one of his servants, 
to be his to the year of jubilee ; and it would be a monstrous 
conclusion to assume from this that this servant was a slave, 
and that it was the custom for householders in Judea to be- 
stow their inheritance upon their favorite slaves! But what 
will not prejudice accomplish? Not only has it been assumed, 
from this one place in the historic record in Genesis, that this 
servant of Abraham was a slave, but, also, that assumption 


being settled, another has been drawn from that, namely, that 
we may gather from this, that in those days it was the custom, 
if any man died without heirs, his estate descended to the 
oldest or superior slave of the family ! No other proof of 
any such supposed custom is adverted to ; none can be found ; 
there is no ground for any such imagination ; the whole is a 
mere pile of conjecture, built upon an assumption, itself en- 
tirely destitute of foundation, entirely false. It, therefore, 
serves as a remarkable example of the manner in which the 
idea of slavery and slaves among the Hebrews, and especially 
in the households of the patriarchs, has got possession of 
men's minds, has been admitted into books of lexicography 
and commentary, and passed unquestioned for indisputable 
fact from generation to generation.* 

The arming of the whole multitude of Abraham's servants, 
and committing to their steadiness and bravery the conduct 
of a war, argues for them all a participation in the same char- 

* Havernick's Introduction to tho the fact of Abraham's steward being 

Pentateuch, page 152. And Rosen- his intended heir is said to disclose a 

mueller, in the note. Havernick, fol- very ancient custom, of which there 

lowing Rosenmueller, observes that had been no previous trace, nor after- 

the verse describing Abraham's stew- wards any thing corresponding to it, 

ard " discloses a very ancient custom, the custom being that of making one's 

that afterwards had nothing corre- slave his heir ! 

sponding to it. According to that, Even this learned and admirable 
in case of childlessness, a slave was writer takes it for granted that the eld- 
heir ; but the slave here appears est servant of Abraham's house could 
under the very peculiar appellation be nothing but a slave, and speaks of 
of the son of possession of the house, him as such : " Rebekak immediately 
referring to special nomadic rela- resolved to go with the slave;" "the 
tions." This very ancient custom is religious language of the slave;" quite 
inferred by Rosenmueller from the regardless as to any question of mo- 
case of the steward ; and then from rality, indeed, seemingly unconscious 
that inference is drawn the conclusion of there being any such question in 
that the steward was a slave, accord- regard to the right or the sinfulness 
ing to the very ancient custom dis- of holding slaves. A great number 
closed by his being the heir 1 "What of just such instances of careless and 
the special nomadic relations are, the groundless assumptions might be pre- 
learned writer does not state, nor is sented. 
there any disclosure of them ; but 


acter, and the enjoyment of a freedom among them, and of 
privileges and blessings so great and valuable under their 
allegiance to Abraham, that he could repose the utmost con- 
fidence in that allegiance, and in their contentment under his 
authority and service. The only case in which there is any 
intimation of oppression or severity in the household, is on 
the part of Sarah, and the subject of it takes an immediate 
opportunity to flee from such oppression. And such oppor- 
tunity, in that state of society, was open to all, nor were 
there, in the sojournings and life of the patriarchs, any of 
those safeguards of law and State power, to keep down the 
oppressed, without which a system such as that of Roman or 
of modern slavery could not be maintained for a single gen- 

It is scarcely to be doubted that slavery grew out of 
idolatry, and in its perfection was one of the last and 
most perfect fruits of the execrable system of Egyptian 
and of Roman paganism. The exalting of men of gigantic 
vice and ability into gods, and the consequent consecration 
of tyrannic power as a celestial attribute, and the obedience 
of its instruments to its despotism, the superstitious de- 
basement of the soul before it, and the necessity of slaves 
as the victims and tools of its ambition and success, very 
naturally suggest and account for the progress and fixture 
of slavery in the old heathen social life. Every thing 
evil and abominable grew, in such society, out of the 
bestial and oppressive idolatrous systems into which men 
fell. There were near five hundred years from Abraham to 
Moses, during which the idolatry of the Egyptians and the 
Canaanites, and every depraved habit along with it, grew 
more dreadful and inveterate. It was a prominent article of 
the divine law: "When the Lord thy God shall cast out the 
nations from before thee, take heed to thyself that thou in- 
quire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations 
serve their gods ? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt 


not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination 
which he hateth have they done unto their gods : for even 
their sons and their daughters have they burnt in the fire to 
their gods." 

The consecration of a race to slavery, the adoption of such 
inhumanity and injustice to be perpetrated from generation 
to generation, would be worse cruelty by far than the pass- 
ing of a selected number of children, at stated times, and 
in idolatrous festivals, through the fire to Moloch. No one 
of the kingdoms of Satan in our world ever began with the 
atrocity of slavery as a fundamental law. If this sin and source 
of misery, this security for the violation of every precept in 
the decalogue and every principle of righteousness, had been 
enshrined in the domestic constitution established by Abra- 
ham, the scheme would have outdone, in diabolic malignity 
and ingenuity, any form of evil ever contrived by the father 
of lies and fastened on posterity. If the problem had been 
to lay the foundations and provide for the completion of the 
most depraved possible society on earth, instead of building 
up a social kingdom through which all the families of mankind 
might be blessed, this far-reaching, infernal purpose could not 
have been more certainly accomplished than by the introduc- 
tion of human slavery, with its atrocious code of law and cus- 
tom, as the most perfect system of the social state.* 

9 Warburton, Divine Legation, impudently avowed, against the uni- 

B. I., sec. vL, states what he regarded versal voice of nature ; an impiety in 

as a monstrosity almost incredible, but which moral virtue is represented as 

which is renewed among us, in the the invention of knaves, and Christian 

elaborate defence of slavery as just, virtue as the imposition of fools." 

and right, and religious, and of the Compare Jay's Hebrew Servitude, 

highest benefit to society ; that " to and Stroud, Slave Code, and Good- 

the lasting opprobrium of our age ell, American Slave Laws, with G ro- 

and country, we have seen a writer tius, Coke, Gisborne and Dymoxd, 

publicly maintain that private vices on the principles of Natural Law and 

were public benefits. An unheard Morality, 
of impiety, wickedly advanced, and 


FERENCE Between Apprenticed and Hired Servants. — Neither the Appren- 
ticed Servant nor the Hireling could be Slaves. — Comparison of Valub 
Between the Apprenticed and Hired Servant.— Designation of Servants as 
Young Men. 

The general term for servant, 1^3, evedh, is sometimes ren- 
dered by our translators servant and sometimes bondman. 
The translation, bondman, can not be justified, if the word is 
meant to imply slavery. The word is sometimes used with 
an emphasis of oppression, determined by reference to the na- 
ture of Egyptian bondage, which was the ultimate standard 
of rigor, cruelty, and tyranny. Deuteronomy, xv. 15 : He- 
member that thou toast a servant (translated in our English 
Bible bondman) in Egypt, iav, an evedh, in a bondage with- 
out mitigation. Thou shalt not compel thy brother to serve 
as such a servant. For they are my servants, which I brought 
forth out of the land of Egypt ; they shall not be sold as serv- 
ants. Thou shalt not rule over him with rigor, but shalt fear 
thy God. Leviticus, xxv. 39, 42, 43 : They shall not be sold 
as servants (translated in this case bondmeii), tgs ri ~?' K r*3 
stmb? «V, not with the sale of a servant. And in verse forty- 
four: Of the heathen shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids, 
mcs5 nay, the servant and the maid-servant. There was no 
separate word for bond-servant, no word for slave. There 
was only the word nay, evedh, honorable in its origin, and 
free in its original meaning, winch they had to adopt and 
use. But a man might be an -mj>, a serva?it, and yet be a 
freeman. It is not the term, therefore, but the context, that 


limits and particularizes the signification. In 2 Kings, iv. 1 : 
" The creditor is come to take my two sons to be (in our 
translation) bondmen," that is, d^ajfe, to be for servants, 
but not bondmen ; for by law, being Hebrews, they could not 
be sold as bondmen, though they might be taken as servants, 
at a valuation of their time and labor, for the term of six 
years, for payment of the debt, to work out the debt. But 
if that did not suffice, but they must be held longer, then it 
was not lawful to hold them as bondmen, but as hired serv- 
ants. See the law, Leviticus, xxv. 39, 40: "If thy brother 
that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee, 
thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bond-servant ; but as 
a hired servant, and a sojourner he shall be with thee." Not 
as lay, evedh, but as "P5to, sakir. Thou shalt not compel him 
to serve as a bond-servant, tay may 'is nhyn-N'^. Thou shalt 
not task -upon him the tasking of a servant. 

The service of the bond-servant thus designated was fre- 
quently compared, for illustration, with the servitude endured 
by the Israelites in Egypt. This was despotic, and without 
wages, without stipulated reward ; no agreement or bargain 
between master and servant, but the latter forced into the 
service and under the rule of the former ; a degradation and 
a yoke, under which no right of a freeman could be asserted. 
See Leviticus, xxvi. 13 ; Deuteronomy, xvi. 12; xxiv. 18-22 ; 
xxvi. 6 ; xxviii. 68. It was the bondage endured by the Jews 
in their captivity, Ezra, ix. 9 ; Nehemiah, v. 8. It was the 
bondage into which Joseph was sold, Genesis, xxxvii. 28, 36, 
and Psalm ev. 17. Various legal privileges, to which even 
the lowest class of servants among the Hebrews were enti- 
tled, and various limitary statutes, controlling the system of 
servitude, made it impossible for the Hebrews to impose the 
same despotic slavery upon others. They could not rule over 
the servants obtained from the heathen with the same unlim- 
ited authority with which the heathen ruled over their own 
slaves. Both the Hebrew servants and the servants " bought 



with money of the stranger," were under protection of the 
same laws against cruelty, and were in the same relation to 
the Church by circumcision, and entitled to their rights in all 
the religious festivals and privileges of instruction and of 
worship. The Sabbath, and also the Sabbatical year of rest, 
was theirs as well as their master's ; and, as we shall see, the 
recurrence of jubilee was a limit beyond which no form or 
period of bondage could in any case be continued. 


The Hebrew term for hired servant, "VOb, sakir, the hire- 
ling^ is from the verb "toto, sakar, to hire. Leviticus, xix. 13, 
the icages of him that is hired, T^?, sakir. — Exodus, xxii. 15, 
of a person who has hired himself out with his ox or ass, or im- 
plement of husbandry, if he were a hireling, "Vt'y— oa. So in 
Exodus, xii. 45, a hired servant, "V>ste, sakir y also, Leviticus, 
xxii. 16, a hired servant of the priest ; also Leviticus, xxv. 40, 
50, 53. In Isaiah, xvi. 14, we have an illustrative passage : 
Within three years, as the years of an hireling -vote imjjb, 
sakir; also Isaiah, xxi. 16 : Within a year, according to the years 
of cm hireling, "VSto imjs, computed as the years of a servant 
hired by the year are computed. But the TWs»j sakir, the 
hired servant, might be hired by the day, while the ordinary 
servant, the ns? evedh, had no such compensation, having 
been apprenticed or hired for six years. Job, vii. 2 : As a 
servant, "oj>, evedh, earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an 
hireling, t>s», sakir, looketh for his wages. Here the con- 
trast between the two words and their respective significa- 
tion is marked. The "isv, evedh, the ordinary servant, looks 
for no wages at the end of the day, but longs for the evening, 
and for rest, or for a shadow from the sun, and for some relief 
from his toil ; but the hired servant, "vste, sakir', looks for the 
reward of his work, according to the law in Leviticus, xix. 13. 
So, likewise, Job, xiv. 6, that he may accomplish, as an hire- 
ling, his day, "Wsto.. 


Now it is to be noted that the word n:w, evedh, is never 
used in conjunction with any adjective to signify a hired serv- 
ant ; for the naa>, evedh, the servant, was one whose whole 
services were purchased at the outset for a specified time, 
longer or shorter, as the case might be, from himself, or from 
some one to whom for such a time he owed those services ; 
it might be for a term of years, it might be till the jubilee. 
It is quite clear that the distinctive signification of tay, evedh, 
excluded the idea of daily wages. In Leviticus, xxv. 39, 49, 
the particular difference between the ordinary servant and 
the hired servant is legally drawn out : " If thy brother that 
dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee, thou 
shalt not compel him to serve as ia», evedh ; but as an hired 
servant and as a sojourner shall he be with thee." The spe- 
cific word "VtV, sakir, is used ; thou shalt not compel him to 
serve as an nsy, evedh ; but as a vsto, sakir, and a sojourner shall 
he be with thee. The point in view evidently is this ; thou shalt 
not treat him as a servant of all work, bound to thee irrevoc- 
ably by his apprenticeship, but as a hireling who can leave at any 
time, on giving notice. Yet this is spoken of one who is sold, one 
who is bought with money. The buying with money did not 
imply ownership, did not render consequent or extant the con- 
dition which we call slavery : this is perfectly clear. All the 
Hebrew servants so bought were merely servants bound out 
for a term of years, and if longer than six years, then to be 
treated as hired servants, not as bond-servants. So in Exo- 
dus, xxi. 7, where it is said, If a man sell his daughter, the 
thing signified is merely a six years' contract for her services ; 
her service for six years is sold for so much. 

A Hebrew might sell himself to a stranger, sojourner, or 
alien in Israel, or to the stock of the stranger's family, to the 
heir, for an unlimited time, that is, for the period of time 
from the making of the bargain to the jubilee. But this sale 
had two conditions : first, he was to be with his master " as a 
yearly hired servant," n:aa n:w ts'wd, Leviticus, xxv. 53, as a 


hireling from year to year, or year by year; second, he could 
at any time be redeemed, that is, could buy back his own 
time, or have it bought back for him; and his owner was 
compelled to grant the redemption and take the money. 
The price of redemption was reckoned from the year that 
he was sold to the year of jubilee, so much a yeai - , accord- 
ing to the price and time of a yearly hired servant. If 
more years remained to the jubilee, a greater price, if fewer 
a less price, was to be paid for his own time. If not re- 
deemed, he and all his family were to be free at any rate in 
the year of jubilee; and meanwhile he was to receive wages 
as a yearly hired servant, a "vsts, sakir, and not an n?3? , evedh. 
It is added that his master shall not rule with rigor over him. 
And in Leviticus, xxv. 46, when it is enacted that the servants 
of the Hebrews may be purchased of the strangers or the fami- 
lies of strangers, the heathen or their descendants in the. land, 
it was added, " but over your brethren, the children of Israel, 
ye shall not rule, one over another, with rigor." The rigor- 
ous rule, as contrasted with the lenient rule over hired serv- 
ants, consisted partly in the very fact of their being bound 
to serve the whole six years, or the whole time for which 
they had apprenticed themselves, for the sum paid for such 
apprenticeship, without being entitled to receive any other 
wages, either daily, weekly, or yearly. This was the grand 
difference between the "ts» and -rcto. 

There were other differences by statute, as described in 
Exodus, xii. 43-45, and Leviticus, xxii. 10, 11. No uncir- 
cumcised stranger or foreigner, nor any man's hired servant, 
might eat of the passover. But the servant bought for money 
niiobt eat thereof when circumcised. It was a household or- 
dinance, to be observed by families, as well as national. The 
home-born servants were regarded in this respect as belong- 
ing to the family, but the hired servants not. Yet this could 
not have been intended to operate to the exclusion of hired 
servants, under all circumstances, from the passover ; it may 


mean hired servants nncircumcised. Certainly Hebrews them- 
selves were sometimes in the state of hired servants, and conld 
not have been excluded. But again, in the priest's family, 
Leviticus, xxii. 10, 11, while the servant bought with money, 
or born in the house, was permitted to partake of the holy 
things, the hired servant was forbidden, was not regarded as 
belonging to the priest's household. 


In Deuteronomy, xv. 1 8, there is a computation of the com- 
parative worth of a servant, ns?|, evedh, and the hired servant, 
iisto, sakir. " The Hebrew servant, serving thee six years by 
sale, hath been worth a double hired servant to thee in serviny 
thee six years /" or perhaps it means, duplicate the wages of 
a hired servant for six years ; that is, if you had kept a hired 
servant for six years, by yearly wages, it would have cost you 
double the price you have paid for the six years' Hebrew 
servant. The servant bought for six years you had no yearly 
wages to pay, but the hired servant you must pay by the 
year. On this account, when the Hebrew servant was set free 
at the end of his six years' service, the master was by law en- 
joined to give him a parting gift ; was not permitted to send 
him away empty, but was " bound to furnish him liberally out 
of the flock, the floor, and the wine-press." It was an outfit, 
intended in some measure to supply to him the absence of 
yearly wages. Deuteronomy, xv. 13, 14. 

From all this it appeal's that, so far as the Hebrew servant 
was an is?, evedh, he was such only for the term of six years, 
an ids, evedh, for the whole term, without daily wages; but 
if in longer servitude, then he was an T>sto nny, evedh sakir, a 
servant, an hireling, a servant on wages. The mere n^» was 
ordinarily the servant bought for money, and was considered 
as bound to pay, by his labor, for the sum of money given as 
the purchase of his whole time. If the master had to pay him 
yearly or daily wages in addition, then the servant bought 


with his money would have cost him much more than the 
hired laborer. It was the difference between a six years' ap- 
prenticeship, and a six years' service on daily, weekly, or 
yearly wages. 

Such were the relations between master and servant in the 
Hebrew household four or five hundred years after the time 
of Abraham. Such was the system of servitude as regulated 
by law, to which God's regulations with Abraham, in the 
founding of the Hebrew nation and policy, looked forward. 
Abraham, five hundred years before the operation of the 
Mosaic statutes, had servants that were born in his house, 
servauts that were given him, and servants that were bought 
with his money. They were all circumcised and instructed ; 
and his children and his household were to keep the way of 
the Lord, to do justice and judgment. God's testimony to 
Isaac concerning Abraham, after his death, was this : " be- 
cause that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, 
my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." Genesis, 
xxvi. 5. There were men in Abraham's house, born in his 
house, and there were those bought with money of the 
stranger ; they were all circumcised along with Ishmael his 
son, and formed one and the same religious family. 


It is in Abraham's household that we first find mention of 
servants under the form iss, notar, a young man, Genesis, xviii. 7. 
This designation is repeated in Genesis, xxii. 3, 5, 19, where 
Abraham's young men accompanied himself and Isaac to the 
mount of the appointed sacrifice. They were employed in 
menial services, though the word does not necessarily mean 
servants, and Isaac himself is called by the same designation, 
rendered in his case lad. Indeed, the generic signification is 
lad, or boy, while it is often applied to designate servants, as 
also is the feminine of n?: applied to a maid-servant. Thus 
we find Abraham, on these two important occasions, person- 


ally waited on (as also his illustrious guests) by his young 
men, mst. 

There is the same usage in the following instances : 2 Kings, 
iv. 22, 24, used to designate the servants of the Shunamite, 
and verse 25, applied to Gehazi, the servant of Elijah. Also, 
v. 20 and viii. 4. In 2 Kings, vi. 15, it is one of two terms 
applied to designate the servant of Elisha, the first from the 
verb r\-yo, to serve, to minister, and the second, n?s, as also in 
verse 17. In 1 Kings, xix. 3, Elijah left his servant at Beer- 
sheba, '-njfi. It is used also in 1 Kings, xx. 14, 15, 17, 19, and 
in like manner in 2 Kings, xix. 6. The same designation is 
applied in Nehemiah, iv. 16, 22, 23, and v. 15, 16, and vi. 5. 
It is applied to ISTehemiah's servants, the people's, Sanballat's, 
and the former governor's servants. But in the same his- 
tory, Tobiah, the servant, the Ammonite, is designated with 
intended contempt as the is», probably a runaway slave of 
the heathen, though he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah, the 
son of Arah. Nehemiah, ii. 10, 19, and vi. 18, and xiii. 19. 
In Numbers, xxii. 22, the term n?5, is applied to the two serv- 
ants of Balaam. 

After the overthrow of Sodom, Abraham sojourned in 
Gerar, and there Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and men- 
servants and women-servants, nhs** b^a*, and gave to Abra- 
ham, Genesis, xx. 14. And all that Abraham had, he gave 
unto Isaac, flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and men- 
servants and maid-servants, and camels and asses, Genesis, 
xxiv. 35, 36, and xxv. 5. After the death of Abraham we 
find Isaac dwelling in Gerar, under the divine blessing, so 
that he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, 
and great store of servants, na-i nnayn, Genesis, xxvi. 14. 
Precisely the same words are used of Job, that he had a very 
great household, nan rnax, the xohole body of domestics and 
dependents, Job, i. 3. 

But the servants are here called, as in Genesis, xxii. 3, and 
other places referred to above, young men, D^s*, Job, i. 15-17, 


three times : first, the servants are slain ; second, the sheep and 
the servants are consumed ; third, the camels are carried away 
and the servants slain by the Chaldeans. These D^a were 
certainly a part of the great household, the n*a? s , the domes- 
tics and servants of Job. But in the nineteenth verse the 
same word is used to describe Job's own sons as destroyed in 
the falling of the house ; they, too, are called the young men, 
tji^ssn. In Job, xli. 5, the feminine plural is used for maidens: 
Wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? tpK--i?.:*5. 

This peculiar usage prevails in Judges, Ruth, and the first 
book of Samuel. Judges, vii. 10, 11 : Phurah, the servant of 
Gideon, 1*5, naar. Judges, xix. 3 : His servant with him, and 
a couple of asses, '.->?$, naar. Judges, xix. 9, 11, 13, 19: The 
master to the servant, and the servant to the master, the dis- 
tinction being that of wis and ta*3, naar. Ruth, ii. 5, 6 : 
Boaz to his servant over the reapers, his young men, hnss?, 
naar. Also ii. 9, 15, 21. The feminine of the same word 
in this book is used for maidens, as ii. 8, my maidens, Vp£S. 
Ruth, ii. 22, 23, the maidens of Boaz. R is the servants of 
Boaz that are thus designated, and Ruth calls them, in ii. 13, 
handmaidens, ^rjhao, shiphhah. The young men and the maid- 
ens, as servants to Boaz, were at work in his fields, and Ruth 
gleaned among them and after them. In this book, the word 
12?, evedh, for servant, is not once employed ; an indication 
that there was no approximation to slavery known in the 
household of Boaz, though he was a mighty man of wealth of 
the family of Elimelech. 

In 1 Samuel, ix. 3, 5, 8, 7, 22, 27, and x. 14, there is the 
same usage. Kish said to Saul, take now one of the servants, 
w-virn, naar, with thee, and seek the asses. Then said Saul 
to his servant, Sim, naar, and so repeatedly. The same usage 
in reference to maidens employed in drawing water; in ix. 11, 
they are called nViJ>5. And so in 1 Samuel, ii. 13, 15, the 
masculine of the same noun is used for the priest's servant, 
nw, naar. 


In 1 Samuel, xxx. 13, the word is used as follows: a young 
man (nys, naar) of Egypt, servant ("lay, evedh) to an Araalek- 
ite. In 2 Samuel, ix. 2, compared with ix. 9, 10, and xvi. 1, 
and xix. 17, the terms ia!g, evedh, and i»s, naar, are applied to 
the same person, Ziba, of the house of Saul ; and a close ex- 
amination of the passages indicates the condition signified to 
be quite different from any thing implied in the appellation of 
slave. Ziba is first called a servant, nss, evedh, of the house 
of Saul, and then he is named the nys, naar, of the house of 
Saul, with twenty servants, b^s*, evedh, under him, in his own 
house, and all that dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants, 
Es"n:=y, evedh, unto Mephibosheth. 2 Samuel, ix. 9 : " The king 
called to Ziba, Saul's servant, -iy;, naar, and said unto him, I 
have given unto thy master's son all that pertained to Saul, 
and to all his house. Thou, therefore, and thy sons, and thy 
servants, spw^ evedh, shall till the land for him." 2 Samuel, 
xvi. 1 : Ziba is called the servant, nyi, naar, of Mephibosheth, 
and meets King David with provisions. 2 Samuel, xix. 17: 
Again he is called Ziba, the servant of the house of Saul, 
V.N^j n">3 -iy5, naar, the young man of the house of Saul. 
Very evidently, Ziba was an officer of some importance in 
Saul's household, but it is equally clear that he was not a 
slave, though called both the nay, evedh, and the iyi, naar 
of his master the king. The naarism may have been a form 
of service, more honorable, and of a higher grade, than the 
evedhism. The indication, wherever -iy;_, naar, is employed, 
is certainly that of free service, and not bond-service. 

For the present, we stop in our investigation with the 
Abrahamic period. From the survey of this period, as it lies 
in the Scriptures, Ave find no trace wdiatever of the existence 
of slavery, except among idolatrous and despotic nations. 
There is no proof that it ever existed in the household of 
Abraham. There is evidence of the revealed judgment of 
God against it. God's description to Abraham of the bondage 
which his seed should be compelled to undergo in Egypt, was 



a reprobation of involuntary unpaid servitude, as a crime on 
the part of those who enforced it. The nation whom they 
serve will I judge. Know of a surety that thy seed shall 
serve them, and they shall afflict them. The sentence is as 
clearly condemnatory as if God had said, They will be guilty 
of great and cruel oppression, and for the crime of such op- 
pression I will punish them. Is it possible to conceive that 
the individual, with an enlightened moral sense, to whom this 
revelation was made, could himself, as the head and founder 
of a social race and system, establish in his own family and 
nation the same reprobated state of enforced, unpaid, involun- 
tary servitude ? Could Abraham make another seed his prey 
and property, by the same spoliation and affliction denounced 
of God as a crime to be punished, when inflicted on his own 
seed ? The crime of the Egyptians against the Hebrews was 
the enslaving of them, and treating them as slaves. The en- 
slaving of others, and treating them as slaves, would be the 
same crime in Abraham ; it would be the founding of the 
same system of oppression and cruelty, which God plainly in- 
formed Abraham was wrong.* 

* Antiquities of Egypt. The Fu- have defrauded no man ; I have not 

ture State, 155. slaughtered the cattle of the gods; I 

It has been questioned by some have not prevaricated at the seat of 
writers whether slavery existed in justice ; i" have not made slaves of the 
Egypt under what is called the the- Egyptians ; I have not defiled my 
ocracy in that country ; and ho cvi- conscience for the sake of my supe- 
dcnces of slavery, in the law } cited rior ; I have not used violence ; I 
by Diodorus, are referred to a period have not famished my household ; I 
very much later than that of Abra- have not made to weep ; I have not 
ham. That the Egyptians did not smitten privily; I have not changed 
make slaves of their own country- the measures of Egypt; I have not 
men, and that tho doing of this was grieved the spirits of the gods ; I have 
regarded as a crime of the greatest not committed adultery," etc. 
magnitude, is manifest from their own Tho enumeration of slave-making 
records. From the Egyptian ritual as among the greatest crimes is re- 
pictures in the British Museum there markable. It is hardly to be sup- 
is gathered the following address of posed that the conscience of Abra- 
the departed soul before Osiris, on en- ham, enlightened by divine revela- 
tering tho Hall of Judgment : " I tion, would permit him to maintain 


Even when, in the execution of God's judgments against 
the heathen nations expelled from the promised land, the He- 
brews were commanded to put the remnant of those nations 
to tribute and service, they were forbidden to treat them as 
they themselves had been treated in Egypt. The system of 
servitude under which they were to be brought, was hemmed 
in and restricted by such legal limitations and periodical clos- 
ures, that what we call slavery could not grow out of it, but 
would, on the contrary, be abolished by it. It is impossible that 
the system which God thus predestinated to abhorrence, as a 
system of iniquity, could at the same time be set in the house- 
hold and line of the patriarch as an example and model of so- 
cial and domestic life. There must be positive proof of the 
most unquestionable clearness, before we can admit the exist- 
ence of such an anomaly ; but no proof is found. It is no 
proof to take assumptions from the existence and nature of 
slavery in ancient Greece and Rome, or in modern ages, and 
carry them back to the foundation of the patriarchal society, 
and force them there, as a supposititious conclusion in regard 
to that society. It is no proof to take from modern times and 
languages a name, a term, of which there is no trace in the 
Hebrew tongue, and apply it to Hebrew usages that have no 
reality corresponding to it, and then, notwithstanding all this, 
draw from such application of the term an opinion that the 
thing itself existed. Strange to say, this has been the cas& 
with not a few commentators, almost without reflection, witl- 
not the slightest examination of the question ; so that wt> 
find the term slave most carelessly, incongruously, aiKi 
groundlessly applied, even in books and essays assuming *o 
be critical. 

If we could suppose a species of upas-apple to have been 
grafted on the antique olive-tree, so that from the time of 

as a habit, what even the natural ians, taught them to consider as an 
conscience, and the remnant of relig- oppression and a crime, 
ious knowledge among the Egypt- 



Julius Caesar down to this day the most ordinary fruit of the 
olive should bo a hitter, oily, poisonous apple, used for the 
purpose of intoxication and intemperance, it would certainly 
be a somewhat serious error to assume the existence and use 
of this artificial corruption of the olive in the land of Palestine 
in the time of Joshua and the Judges. If this modern per- 
verted fruit had its own peculiar name, it would be an extra- 
ordinary stupidity or willful perversion, for any lexicographer 
or commentator to call the fruit of the oriental antique olive by 
that name. And it would be a most disastrous and absurd 
confusion to carry in our minds the idea of that poisonous and 
vicious modern invention, when reading of the habitual use of 
the olive as a native and most precious production of the Holy 
Land, one of the most gracious gifts of God to its inhabitants. 
But even this would be not more absurd than for us to carry 
the name or the idea of slavery back to the household life of 

* Saalschutz. Das Mosa'sche Eecht. 
Laws of Moses, Vol. II., note on sec. 
xii., p. 114. Saalschutz corrects 
Michaelis, and affirms that he had 
brought in a most pernicious mistake 
in giving the general title of bondage 
or slavery to the system of Jewish 
service. Referring to instances in 
proof of this error, " With what jus- 
tice," he asks, "could the appellation 
of Leibegenschaft, servile thraldom, or 
slavery, be applied to such a system ? 
Servants that were free by law in the 
seventh year, and universally in the 
year of jubilee, could not be called 
slaves ; they were in no sense such. 
With what propriety or justice can any 
or all these classes of servants bo 
called bondsmen or slaves ?" 

Compare Graves, on the Penta- 
teuch. Moral Principles of the Jewish 
Law, Part II., sec. in., and Dymond, 

Essays on Morality, with Blackstone 
and Coke on Natural Law and Right. 
" As liberty is equally valuable with 
life," remarks Graves, "the Jewish 
law, with the strictest equity, or- 
dained that if any man were convicted 
of attempting to reduce any fellow- 
citizen to slavery, he should be pun- 
ished with death." The principle of 
one and the same law for the stranger 
and the native applied here, for the 
death penalty is against stealing a 
man, and it has been again and again 
demonstrated that he who holds a man 
as a slave, against his own will, re- 
news the stealing of him every hour. 
" Whoever," says Gisborne, (Slave 
Trade, 144, 155,) "detains the slave 
in bondage, directly or indirectly, a 
moment, commits a flagrant sin against 


Patbiarchal Establishment op Isaac and Jacob. — The Outrage at Shechem.— 
Tbibdtaby Sebvice. — Captives in Wab. — God's Eepbobation on the Custom of 
Selling them fob Slaves. — Tub First Instance of Man Stealing. — Condition 
of the Iseaelites in Egypt. 

Lepsius has noticed the great personality of Abraham, and 
what he calls the non-prominent activity of Isaac. The con- 
trast is indeed striking ; and the only interval in which we be- 
hold in his circumstances the patriarchal greatness and prosper- 
ity of his father, is the period of his sojourn in the land of the 
Philistines, recorded in the twenty-fifth chapter of Genesis. 
But Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac, xxv. 5 ; and 
the account given of him some twenty years after Abraham's 
death, is as follows: "The Lord blessed him, and the man 
waxed great, and went forward and grew until he became 
very great ; for he had possession of flocks, and possession of 
herds, and great store of servants," xxvi. 12-14. Here the 
appellative for the greatness of his household is the Hebrew 
rnay, avudha, the verbal from nay, avadh, signifying the whole 
body of his domestics, or of those in his employment, includ- 
ing, of course, the herdsmen and well-diggers. Compare 
Job, i. 3, the description of Job's very great household, nttto 
nan n*»aj. There is no intimation of slavery, nor any approxi- 
mation thereto, in Isaac's family or jurisdiction. 

From him the same gift of inheritance descended with the 
right of the first-born to Jacob, in whose family the patriarchal 
dominion and opulence passed from one person to twelve in 
the constitution of the Jewish State. During the sojourn of 


Jacob with Laban, there is no change of manners, no intro- 
duction or appearance of any form of slavery. Jacob himself 
is said to have served Laban for wages ; he was Laban's serv- 
ant as well as his son-in-law ; and it is said that " the man in- 
creased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maid-servants 
and men-servants.'''' D-Hssn rnhDti, Genesis, xxx. 43. These 
went with him, when he fled from Laban : they were his nna?., 
aviidha, his patriarchal establishment, when he met Esau, and 
sent messengers to his brother, saying : "I have oxen and 
asses, flocks, and men-servants, and women-servants," Genesis, 
xxxii. 5. But his two wives, and his two women-servants, 
and his eleven sons, are described as his immediate family, 
and are set apart by themselves — the handmaidens with their 
children, and Leah with hers, and Joseph and Rachel, Genesis, 
xxxiii. 6, 7. After a favorable interview with Esau, he travels 
on slowly, with his flocks and herds, to Succoth and Shalem, 
and erects an altar. 

But here, at Shechem, was perpetrated that murderous out- 
rage, by the sons of Jacob, in the sacking and spoiling of that 
city, remembered by the patriarch, with a solemn curse, upon 
his dying bed. After destroying the males of the city, " all 
their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives, took 
they captive." There is no account of the final disposition 
made of these unfortunate captives; but in this infamous 
transaction we have the first intimation of.any possibility of 
the possession of servants, by violence and fraud, among the 
descendants of Abraham. 


Among the heathen nations, captivity in war was one of the 
most common modes by which men became slaves; but in 
the history of Abraham we see the patriarch refusing to sanc- 
tion such a transaction by his example. When he had con- 
quered those heathen marauders who took Lot captive, the 
king of Sodom proposed that Abraham should give him the 


persons, and take the goods to himself, dividing thus the spoil 
between them, on grounds easy to be guessed at from our 
knowledge of the morals of the Sodomites. But Abraham de- 
clared that he would enter into no bargain with him, neither 
for goods nor persons : from a thread to a shoe-latchet, he 
would take nothing. Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre the Amorite 
might make what terms they pleased, but he himself would 
take nothing. 

Jacob's abhorrence of the conduct of his sons is marked : 
he denounced the whole wickedness of the murder and cap- 
tivity of the Shechemites, and was beyond measure distressed 
by it. He seems to have made it the occasion of a religious 
reformation, commanding his household, and all that xoere 
with him, to put away the strange gods that were among 
them, and be clean, Genesis, xxxv. 2. Thus Jacob returned 
to the habitation of Isaac his father, who died in Hebron at 
the age of one hundred and eighty years, and his sons Esau 
and Jacob buried him. "And Esau took his wives and his 
sons and his daughters, and all the persons of his house, 
!iv>a hSttBJHst—fiw 1 }, and all his substance which he had gotten in 
the land of Canaan, and went into the country from the face 
of his brother Jacob ; for their riches were more than that 
they might dwell together, and the land wherein they were 
strangers could not bear them because of their cattle," Gen- 
esis, xxxvi. £, 7. Here the expression hrna n't-Ei-Vs holnaph- 
shoth betho, is clearly synonymous with n^sy avudha, in the 
description of the households of Isaac and Job; it compre- 
hends domestics and dependents, the born in the house, rra 
t»*£, and the hired servants, and all whose time and services, 
in a limited or definite apprenticeship, were bought with money 
of the stranger. 

The blessing of a birth-right conferred in itself no superior 
authority upon one brother over the other ; but Isaac's pecu- 
liar blessing upon Jacob, on the occasion recorded in Genesis, 
xxvii., made Esau tributary to his brother, as unexpectedly to 


Isaac as to himself; for the arrangement had been quite the 
reverse, but for Rebecca's deceit and Isaac's blindness. " Let 
people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee : be lord 
over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee," 
Genesis, xxvii. 29. There was the solemnity of a divine inspira- 
tion or compulsion in this, for Isaac felt that he could not revoke 
or change it; yea, and he shall be blessed, in spite of his strata- 
gem and our disappointment. Behold, I have made him thy 
lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants, 
Genesis, xxvii. 33, 37. The expression for servants is tpnasis, 
laavadhim, so that an unscrupulous advocate for the divine 
right of slavery might much more plausibly find it here, in the 
blessing upon Jacob, than in the curse upon Canaan. But 
the nature of this domination is instantly defined, and the 
definition applies to both transactions. "By thy sword shalt 
thou live, and shalt serve thy brother ; and it shall come to 
pass, when thou shalt have dominion, that thou shalt break 
his yoke from off thy neck." Here a national subjection was 
meant, and not a personal servitude. 


That the divine reprobation rested upon the custom of 
making slaves out of captives taken in war, is manifest from 
many passages. God never permitted it among the Jews 
themselves, when there were two kingdoms in conflict, and 
among other nations it is not unfrequently presented as a sin 
and misery, the result of a marked retributive Providence. 

The transaction recorded in 2 Chronicles, xxviii. 8-15, affords 
a very remarkable proof of God's abhorrence of such a traffic. 
It is a lucid commentary on the laws against making merchan- 
dise of men ; and the immediate obedience of the people to 
the word of the Lord forbidding this crime, shows how deep- 
ly their conscience was stirred and struck with remorse under 
the sense of it, for having intended it : " Deliver the captives 
again, which ye have taken captive, for the fierce wrath of 


the Lord is upon you ;" " Our trespass is great, and there is 
fierce wrath against Israel ;" " Ye purpose to keep under the 
children of Judah and Jerusalem for bondmen and bond- 
women unto you." Such compelled, involuntary bondage 
would have been slavery, would have been the stealing and 
holding, and making merchandise of men ; would have been, 
in fact, that very crime, which, by the divine law, was to be 
punished with death. The number of the captives was two 
hundred thousand ; but so convicted and subdued were the 
victorious Israelites before the word of God by the prophet 
Oded, so penetrated with a sense of the magnitude of the 
crime they were on the brink of committing, that immedi- 
ately they " rose up and took the captives, and with the spoil 
clothed all that were naked among them, and arrayed them 
and shod them, and gave them to eat and to drink, and 
anointed them, and carried all the feeble of them upon asses, 
and brought them to Jericho, the city of palm trees, to their 
brethren." This is a record of immediate obedience to God, 
in the midst of the rage and flush of victory, and of forbear- 
ance and generosity toward the vanquished at God's com- 
mand, unparalleled in the annals of history. 

The account is full of instruction ; for of all the modes in 
which men have ever been made slaves, conquest in war has 
been supposed to be the least contrary to justice ; but here it 
is denounced as a crime to be visited with the fierce wrath of 
God. But if so in the case of a war between rival kingdoms, 
how much more when the war is against a helpless race, such 
as the natives of Africa ; a piratical invasion, and a series, un- 
interrupted, of savage incursions, entered upon, instigated, and 
perpetuated, for the sole purpose of seizing and carrying away 
captive the wretched victims of such cruelty, to sell them as 
slaves, and to keep them and their posterity as a race of slaves, 
to be held, bought, and sold, as chattels, and only chattels, 
for ever. Both the foreign piracy, and the domestic slave 
trade in the United States, are one and the same crime, but 


perpetuated and legalized in this country with greater aggra- 
vations; the very legalization and sanctification of it constitut- 
ing a greater guilt, and working out in it and by it a far more 
exceeding and eternal weight of infamy and cruelty. 

Among heathen nations it was a custom to dispose of the 
captives taken in war by casting lots for them. This was the 
late endured by some of the Jews themselves, who were thus 
disposed of, in some cases, for the most infamous purposes 
conceivable, Joel, iii. 3. " They have cast lots for my people, 
and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, 
that they might drink." It was thus that the cities of Egypt 
were laid waste, and the inhabitants carried captive. No 
Araon is mentioned in Nahum, and it is stated that "they 
cast lots for her honorable men, and all her great men were 
bound in chains," Nahum, iii. 10. In the prophecy of Oba- 
diah, the Edomites are threatened of God for their violence 
against the Israelites, and for standing aloof when the heath- 
en carried them away captive, and foreigners entered their 
gates and cast lots upon Jerusalem, Obadiah, 11. They are 
also accused of " standing in the crossway to cut off those 
that escaped," and of " delivering up those that remained," 
and it is declared that, as they had done to others, so should 
it be done to them, Obadiah, 14, 15. 

In the same manner, the tribes and inhabitants of Tyre and 
Zidon, and of the coasts of Palestine, are arraigned and assured 
of God's vengeance, because they had sold the children of Jic- 
dah and the children of Jerusalem to the Grecians, that they 
might be removed far from their border, Joel, iii. 6. For this 
iniquity God declares, " I will sell your sons and your daugh- 
ters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell 
them to the Sabeans, to a people far off, for the Lord hath 
spoken it," Joel, iii. 8. As a direct testimony of God in re- 
gard to the sinfulness of such a traffic, these passages are very 
important. The being sold in bondage is presented as one of 
the most terrible judgments of God upon a guilty nation. The 


same judgment is threatened against the sinful Hebrews them- 
selves, Deuteronomy, xxviii. 68, as the climax of all the curses 
pronounced against them for their sins : " Ye shall be sold 
unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man 
shall buy you :" ye shall be tossed to and fro for sale, as so 
many cattle, with the shame and the misery of being so de- 
spised and abhorred that no master will be willing to buy 

The despotism of such a dominion, even when it was in 
some measure lightened, and God began to redeem them 
from it, is graphically set forth in the confession, prayer, and 
covenant of Xehemiah and the people, returning from their 
captivity. " Behold we are servants this day in the land thou 
gavest to our fathers, and it yieldeth much increase to the 
kings whom thou hast set over us because of our sins; also, 
they have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle at 
their pleasure, and we are in great distress,'' Nehemiah, ix. 
36, 37. 


There needed no law against man-stealing to assure the 
conscience of its being a crime ; and it has been a subject of 
wonder that the sons of Jacob could so deliberately and re- 
morselessly plunge themselves into such guilt. But the steps 
in the histoiy are logical forerunners and sequences. Events 
follow upon character, and one act produces another, with a 
perfect moral fitness and fatality. Any thing might have been 
expected, any development could not have been surprising, 
after the dreadful tragedy at Shechera. The murderous sack- 
ing of that city, and the disposal of the captives, had prepared 
the sons of Jacob, " moved with envy," (the former passion 
having been revenge), for the crime of kidnapping. They 
took their choice between murdering their brother and selling 
him, it being only the providence of God, in the passing of 
the Ishmaelites just then, from Gilead toward Egypt, with their 
caravan of camels, laden with spices, and balm, and myrrh, 


that suggested to them the merchandise as more profitable. 
So they sold Joseph to the Ishmaelities for twenty pieces of 
silver. And the Midianites sold him into Egypt, Genesis, 
xxxvii. 28-36. The word used for this transaction is in both 
cases the same, ns», makar. And Potiphar bought him, 
»7t3}?»5. vayiknehu, xxxix. 1. The word bought is from hjj?, 
Jcanah, and the same is applied, Nehemiah, v. 8, to the pur- 
chase, for redemption, of the Jews that had been sold unto 
the heathen. Joseph is called by Potiphar's wife, xxxix. 17, 
the Hebrew servant, tayji, haevedh. Joseph describes the 
transaction by which he was brought into bondage in Egypt 
as man-stealing • for indeed Iioas stolen away out of the land 
of the Hebrews, itfiai s&A. The chief butler's description or 
designation of Joseph is that of a young man, a Hebrew, serv- 
ant to the captain, nzv 1*03; ny$, naar, ivry, evedh, Genesis, 
xli. 12. 

In the course of Joseph's interview with his brethren, the 
word nay, evedh, is very frequently employed ; and they and 
Joseph use it to signify both the condition of a free servant 
and of one condemned to servitude for crime. The variety in 
the translation of the same term, sometimes by the word bond- 
man, sometimes servant, is singularly loose and groundless, 
Genesis, xliv. 9, 10, 16, 17, 33: "With whomsoever of thy 
servants (t23>, evedh), it be found, both let him die, and we 
also will be my lord's bondmen," (nay, evedh), the same word, 
servants. " And he said, lie shall be my servant" (nay, evedh). 
And again, " Let thy servant ("ray, evedh), abide instead of 
the lad, a bondman" (na?, evedh), Genesis, xliv. 33. The bond- 
age here signifies a servitude in punishment of crime — a 
slavery into which, without crime, Joseph had been many 
years previous most diabolically sold by his own brethren for 
twenty pieces of silver. It was a question, then, whether to 
sell him or leave him to die ; a most extraordinary demonstra- 
tion of the exactly equivalent nature of the two crimes of mur- 
der and man-stealing; showing the diabolism at heart, and 


proving that a man capable of making merchandise of his 
brother man was capable also of murdering him, the latter 
form of wickedness requiring no greater malignity than the 
former. And if men, under the light of revelation, can see 
nothing criminal in slavery, neither would they in murder, if 
murder, like slavery, should become profitable. 


The question next arises, in the order of the history, 
whether any of the great store of servants spoken of as for- 
merly belonging to Jacob's household, went down with him 
into Egypt to settle there. No mention is made of them, and 
only his own posterity are particularized in the census. " And 
Jacob rose up from Beersheba, and the sons of Israel carried 
Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in 
the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. And they 
took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in 
the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his 
seed with him. His sons and his sons' sons with him, his 
daughters and his sons' daughters, and all his seed brought he 
with him into Egypt," Genesis, xlvi. 5, 7. " All the souls that 
came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, be- 
sides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls threescore and six," 
xlvi. 26. The enumeration here is simply all that came out of 
Jacob's loins ; it does not prove that none others were with 
them ; and Joseph is said to have " nourished his father, and 
his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, accord- 
ing to their families," xlvii. 12, iva-^s mn% veethkolbeth, all the 
household. Joseph's own enumeration to Pharaoh was : " My 
father, and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and 
all that they have, are in the land of Goshen." The two years 
of sore famine must have greatly reduced the *rj»», avitdha, 
the household establishment of the patriarch, once so rich and 
numerous. Servants and dependents would be dismissed, their 
herds and their flocks would be diminished ; nevertheless, we 



can not certainly conclude that no servants whatever went 
with them into Egypt. But there we shortly find the testi- 
mony, Exodus, i. 7, that " the children of Israel were fruitful, 
and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceed- 
ing mighty, and the land was filled with them." 

Though they occupied a separate province, yet manifestly at 
the time of Moses and the Exodus there was much comming- 
ling with the Egyptians in social life and in neighborhoods. 
There was visiting and sojourning between Egyptian and He- 
brew families. This is clear from Exodus, xii. 21-23, and Ex- 
odus, iii. 21, 22 : " Every woman shall borrow* of her neighbor, 

* The error iu regard to this trans- 
action is very great, if it be sup- 
posed that the Hebrews really pre- 
tended to borrow with the intention 
of returning, and that such deception 
was sanctioned of God. It is a mis- 
translation, like that of slave for serv- 

" Of those numerous writers who 
take every opportunity of depreciat- 
ing the Bible, many have been care- 
ful to dilate upon the impropriety of 
the Israelites borrowing goods of the 
Egyptians, when about finally to 
leave the country, and consequently 
without any intention of repayment. 
In addition to what is said in the text 
in explanation of this conduct, and 
on the justice of this requital, it will 
bo quite sufficient to observe that the 
idea of borrowing arises entirely from 
the English translation, and has no 
place iu the original, which is, liter- 
ally, "to ask." So the Septuagint 
reads: "Every woman shall ask of 
her neighbor," etc. Should any one 
still contend for rendering the word 
Vn», borrow, let him try to render 
it so in Psalm cxxii. 6 : borrow the 
peace of Jerusalem ! (Kenxicott)." — 
Smith's Sacred Annals, voL iL, G2. 

Gesenius renders the word, ma- 
tuum petivit, asked or sought, but he 
also renders it postidavit, as a demand. 
But God declared that this was done 
as a just retribution : " Ye shall spod 
the Egyptians;" that is (as in verse 20, 
where God says, " I will smite Egypt,") 
" Ye shall spoU Egypt," Exodus, iii. 22. 
Accordingly, Exodus, xii. 3G, it is said, 
" They spoiled the Egyptians," or, 
as in the other case, it may be trans- 
lated, they spoiled Egypt. It was 
a just, retributive process ; for the 
Egyptians had despoiled the He- 
brews, had taken their labor without 
wages, had made them serve without 
right and without recompense, so 
that whatever the Hebrews now took 
away was no more than belonged to 
them. God did not propose a com- 
pensation to the Egyptians for the loss 
of so many slaves set free, but in this 
divine scheme of emancipation he 
proposed some compensation to the 
oppressed bondmen, besides their free- 
dom, some compensation for the in- 
justice and robbery they had en- 

If the slaves of the United States 
w r ere emancipated on these divinely 
recognized principles, the spoiling of 


and of lier that sojourneth in her house." A degree of 
intimacy and familiarity is here intimated, which the op- 
pressive edicts and cruel measures of the Pharaohs had 
not broken up. Up to the time of the death of Jacob 
and Joseph and all that generation, their condition in 
Egypt had been one of honor and prosperity, and their in- 
tercourse with the Egyptians was disastrously productive 
of increasing looseness, luxury, and idolatry in social life, 
and was full of evil morally, as it was of advantage finan- 
cially. The system of cruelty at length adopted by the 
government of Egypt did not find nor create a correspond- 
ing cruelty on the part of the Egyptian people, and their 
friendly communion with the Hebrews was kept up even to 
the last. 

From Exodus, i. 11, it would seem that the avenue or 
pretense on which their oppressors began to afflict them 
was the collection of the tribute for the king. Operating 
by means of officers, tax-gatherers, for the collection of 
the impost, they seem to have required its payment in 
labor, and to have increased the severity of that labor at 
their pleasure : " Let us deal wisely with them. There- 
fore they did set over them &"Ott "N&, sarai missim, cap- 
tains for the tribute, to afflict them with their burdens." 
Under these exactors, other officers were appointed, called 
afterwards rpAb, nogesai, taskmasters, Exodus, v. 10 ; and 
under them, from among the Hebrews themselves, were 
appointed ">ysiv, shoterai, overseers, Exodus, v. 14-19 ; 

their oppressors, by compelling them See also Calvin, Harmony of 
to make some restitution of defrauded the Pentateuch, vol. i., Exodus, 
wages, would be equally just. The iii. 22. Calvin's translation of the 
African slaves have as perfect a claim word is postulabit. Hengstexberg- 
upon their masters as the Hebrews supposes the spoil to have been a 
had on theirs ; the borrowing and free gift of the Egyptians to the 
spoiling would bo as just a divine Hebrews, in consequence of the kind- 
requisition in the one case as in tho ness produced in their hearts towards 
other. See Josephus' Antiq., book Israel, by God giving them favor in 
h., chap, xiv., sec. vi. their sight. 


in fact, slave-drivers. How large a proportion of the peo- 
ple were drafted for these burdens, or how many were 
exempt, Ave have no means of knowing. It was a servile 
conscription, but it did not make the whole people, per- 
sonally, slaves. 

The condition of the Hebrews in Egypt was one of kind- 
ness, freedom, and comfort, in comparison with the condition 
of the victims of slavery in America. They were a separate 
community, with their own institutions, and only tributary to 
the Egyptians. They possessed large property in flocks and 
herds, and very much cattle. They had for their abode the 
land of Goshen, the best part of Egypt. In their neighbor- 
hood with the Egyptians, they dwelt in their own houses, 
which were secure from violation, each family in a house by 
itself. Their manner of living was, in respect to provisions, 
abundant and nourishing, There was never any pretense on 
the part of their oppressors of owning them as chattels ; they 
were not treated as merchandise, they could not be sold. It 
was a governmental oppression, but under which they were 
as far removed from the condition of that chattel slavery 
in which four millions of human beings in the United States 
are trampled and bound, as the subjects of Austrian oppres- 
sion in Italy. Yet this comparatively light oppression endured 
by them is reprobated of God as grievous, afflictive, cruel, in- 
iquitous ; a crime deserving of his wrath, a crime demanding, 
and visited with, the most tremendous retribution. In the 
light of such a demonstration, what language would be strong 
enough to describe the divine disapprobation and wrath against 
American slavery ? And what is the probable future of our 
country, if we persist in this crime, bold, defiant, impenitent ? 

See Granville Sharpe, Law of Friend, 58, 163. "The only choice 

Retribution, and "Whewell, Duty of left to a vicious government is either 

the State, Vol. II., 1003 ; compared to fall by the people, if they are suf- 

■with Jefferson, Correspondence, and fered to become enlightened, or with 

Notes on Virginia, 39, 40 ; Abbe' them, if they are kept enslaved and 

Katnal, Burke and Coleridge, ignorant." 


Nature of Tributary Servitude. — Case of the Canaanites Generally, and of the 
Gibeonites Particularly. — Case of tiie Nethinim. — Condition of the Serv- 
ants of the Captive Jews. — Jaeiia, the Egyptian. — Children of Solomon's 
Servants. — Strangers Appointed to Labor. — Nothing of Slavery in any of 
These Conditions or Races. 



In the prophetic blessing of Jacob upon his children, it is 
said of Issachar that " he bowed his shoulder to bear, and be- 
came a servant unto tribute," "n'» e»V, lemas ovedh, Genesis, 
xlix. 16. As our line of induction and of argument is at present 
historical, taking up the points of statutory law in their regu- 
lar succession, Ave propose here to examine the nature of the 
tributary and personal servitude imposed by the Mosaic laws, 
and set in practice by Joshua, upon the Canaanitish nations. 
This phrase, nii>— o^V, lemas ovedh, a servant unto tribute, ap- 
plied by Jacob to Issachar, is the generic expression descrip- 
tive of that servitude. Let us carefully trace the principle, 
the law, and its operation. 


In Deuteronomy, xx. 11, it was enacted that when any city 
of the heathen was conquered by the Hebrews, "all the peo- 
ple found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall 
serve thee,''' 1 ^••ii?.! e*^ SjV S"»*r;. The same expression is found 
in Joshua, xvi. 10, of the conquered Canaanites serving the 
Ephraimites under tribute. The form is exactly that used by 
Jacob in reference to Issachar, "iab>— &ta*» iircij, lemas ovedh. In 

Judges, i. 28, 30, 33, 35, we have four instances of the same 



expression applied to the treatment of the Canaanites — by 
Manasseh, by Zebulon, by Naphtali, and the house of Joseph. 
They did not drive out nor exterminate the inhabitants, but 
they became tributaries unto them, efc^ cnV iiin, hayu lahem 
lamas / in verse 28, they put the Canaanites to tribute, dkV 
tijfisn— ris 6b»5, lamas. In Joshua, xvii. 13, the same expres- 
sion, varied only in the use of the verb "jro, they set, or ap- 
pointed, the Canaanites, Ma??, lemas, to tribute. So in Isaiah, 
xxxi. 8, the young men of the conquered Assyrians shall be 
for tribute, shall serve as tributaries, vw) We?», lamas. We 
shall see, from a comparison of 1 Kings, ix. 21, 22, and 2 Chron- 
icles, viii. 8, 9, precisely what this kind of tributaryship was 
in personal service. 

The law in regard to the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, 
Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, was this ; that they should 
be exterminated; nothing should be saved alive "that breath- 
eth," in any of the cities of the people, whose land God had 
given to the Hebrews for their inheritance, Deuteronomy, 
xx. 15, 16, IV; also Deuteronomy, vii. 1-4. And the reason 
was plain, namely, " that they teach you not to do after all 
their abominations, which they have done unto their gods," 
Deuteronomy, xx. 18; Exodus, xxiii. 23, 33. 



Only to the cities of other and distant heathen nations was 
peace to be proclaimed, and, if accepted, then the people were 
to be tributaries, as above ; but if not accepted, and war was 
preferred, then all the males were to be destroyed, and the 
women and the little ones preserved, Deuteronomy, xx. 12-14. 
See, for an example of the manner in which this law was ful- 
filled, Numbers, xxxi. 7-18, in the war against the Midianites. 
The children of Israel took the women of Midian captives, 
and their little ones. See, also, in regard to the cities of the 
Canaanites, Joshua, vi. 21, and viii. 26 ; also, x. 32, 35, 37, 39, 


and xi. 11-19. And, for example of the different treatment 
of cities not of the Canaanites, see Joshua, ix. 15, 27, the 
league that was made with the Gibeonites, under the sup- 
position that they were a distant people ; and which was ful- 
filled, according to the law, as above, by which the distant 
nations were to be treated. The Gibeonites were made trib- 
utaries : " There shall none of you be freed from being bond- 
men, and hewei's of wood and drawers of water for the house 
of my God," Joshua, ix. 23. 

More than four hundred years afterwards, under the reign 
of David, this treaty was remembered, and a most tremendous 
judgment came upon the kingdom in consequence of its vio- 
lation by Saul. The three years' fiirnine mentioned in 1 Sam- 
uel, xxi. 1, was declared, of God, to be for Saul and for his 
bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites. According to 
the treaty made with them by Joshua, they were to be always 
employed in the menial service of God's house. The treaty 
was kept. The city of Gibeon, with most of its dependen- 
cies, fell to the lot of the tribe of Benjamin for an inher- 
itance, Joshua, xviii. 25. It was also, with its suburbs, ap- 
pointed of God, by lot, to be one of the cities of the Levites, 
given to them for an inheritance out of Benjamin, Joshua, 
xxi. 17. But more than this, it became the place of the 
tabernacle* of the congregation of God, 1 Chronicles, xvi. 39, 
and xxi. 29, and also 2 Chronicles, i. 3 ; and the great high 
place of sacrifice, 1 Kings, iii. 4 ; and of the brazen altar be- 
fore the tabernacle, 2 Chronicles, i. 5, where Solomon offered 
a thousand burnt-offerings at once ; and where God appeared 
to Solomon, and entered into covenant with him, 1 Kings, 
iii. 5. 

There is a remarkable coincidence between this historic fact 
and the tenor of the treaty with the Gibeonites, Joshua, ix. 

* " Being brought thither as to tuary when Shiloh fell." — Lightfoot, 
tho chief residence of the sons of vol. ii., p. 198. 
Ithamar, who waited on tho sane- 


27 : " For Joshua made them hewers of wood and drawers of 
water for the congregation, and for the altar of the Lord, 
even unto this day, in the place which he should choose." No 
one could have foreseen that he would choose Gibeon ; but so 
it was. Yet not in that city only did the Gibeonites serve 
the altar ; but when the city was passed to the inheritance of 
the Levites, the Gibeonites and their race must have become 
the servants of the priests, " for the congregation and for the 
altar of the Lord," wherever the tabernacle was set up, as at 
Nob, the city of the priests, where David received the hal- 
lowed bread from Ahimelech, 1 Samuel, xxi. 1 and xxii. 19. 
In his wrath against Ahimelech, and against all that harbored 
David at that time, Saul not only slew the priests, fourscore 
and five, but destroyed the whole city of the priests, with all 
its inhabitants, 1 Samuel, xxii. 18, 19. This was the most 
atrocious and the hugest crime of all his reign. Nothing is to 
be found that can be compared with it. 

Several points are now determined : 1st, The separation of 
a particular race to be bondmen of the altar, servants of the 
priests, for the service of God's house, in a class of labors in- 
dicated by the proverbial expression " hewers of wood and 
drawers of water." There is no intimation of the Gibeonites 
or their posterity ever being servants in any other way, or in 
private families. 2d, This service, and their separation and 
consecration for it as a race, was a boon granted them instead 
of death, which otherwise, by the Divine law, they must have 
suffered. They were spared, in consequence of the treaty 
with them ; and the covenant with them was" of life and labor 
as the servants of the sanctuary. The life was pleasant, the 
service was not over-toilsome ; they accepted it with gratitude. 
3d, The treaty was kept for hundreds of years; and from 
generation to generation the Gibeonites and their posterity 
fulfilled their part of it, continuing, as at first 'appointed, 
the servants of the sanctuary. 4th, Saul was the first who 
broke this treaty ; and God's own view of its sacredness may 


be known by the terrible manner in which he avenged its 
breach, and continued to protect the Gibeonites. Saul had 
not only destroyed the city of Nob, but had " devised means 
by which the Gibeonites should be destroyed from remaining 
in any of the coasts of Israel," 2 Samuel, xxi. 4. 


It has been supposed that the Gibeonites constituted a part 
of the Nethinim, so often mentioned as the servants of the 
tabernacle and of the temple. The first trace of this name 
we meet in Numbers, hi. 9, and viii. 19, where the Levites are 
said to be given as a gift d^rs nethinim, from God to Aaron 
and his sons for the service of the tabernacle. Also, Num- 
bers, xviii. 6. The verb from which this word is derived, irs, 
nathan, is used by Joslma in describing the result of the treaty 
made with the Gibeonites : he gave or granted them to be- 
come, he set or established them, hewers of wood, etc., for 
the altar of the Lord, Joshua, ix. 27 ; he nethinized them for 
the service of the priests. So, in 1 Chronicles, vi. 48, the Le- 
vites are said to have been appointed, d^sr^, nethinized, unto 
all manner of service in the tabernacle. In the same manner, 
for the service of the Levites, others were given, appointed, 
nethinized ; and this class, under the Levites, included the 
Gibeonites, and came to be designated, at length, apart from 
them, and from other servants, as the Nethinim, d^prsn, 1 
Chronicles, ix. 8, where the name first occurs as of a separate 
class ; the people returned from the captivity in Babylon be- 
ing designated as Israelites, Priests, Levites, and the Neth- 
inim. Then the term occurs in Ezra, ii, 43, 58, coupled with 
the children of Solomon's servants, vjns isa, in one and the 
same classification ; all the Nethinim and the children of Sol- 
omon's servants, in number, three hundred and ninety-two. 
" The priests and the Levite3, and some of the people, and 
the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinim, dwelt in their 
cities; t and all Israel in their cities," Ezra, ii. 70. Priests, Le- 


vitcs, singers, porters, and Nethinim are again specified in 
Ezra, vii. 1 ; and, in verse 24, the edict of Artaxerxes is spe- 
cified, forbidding any toll, tribute, or custom from being laid 
upon priests, Levites, singers, porters, Nethinim, or ministers 
of the house of God. 

In Ezra, viii. 17-20, a message is sent to Iddo and his breth- 
ren the Nethinim, at the place Casiphia, for ministers for the 
house of God ; and in answer to this message, there were 
sent, along with a number of Levites, two hundred and twen- 
ty Nethinim, of the Nethinim whom David and the princes 
had appointed for the service of the Levites. In Nehemiah, 
iii. 26, the Nethinim are recorded as having repaired their por- 
tion of the wall of Jerusalem, near their quarter in Ophel. 
They are also enumerated, as in Ezra, along with the children 
of Solomon' 's servants, as having come up from the captivity, 
Nehemiah, vii. 60, 73. They are also recorded with the Le- 
vites, priests, and others, as parties in the great covenant 
which the people renewed with God, to observe his statutes, 
x. 28. The particular quarter of Jerusalem where they dwelt 
is pointed out, and the names of the overseers that were over 
them, Nehemiah, xi. 21. Others of them, as well as of the 
priests, Levites, and children of Solomon's servants, dwelt in 
other cities, according to their respective possessions and en- 
gagements, Nehemiah, xi. 3. 

Their return to Jerusalem from the captivity was volun- 
tary : they might have remained abroad. It was not a return 
to slavery, but a resumption, of their own accord, of the serv- 
ice of the sanctuary, to which they had been devoted. So it. 
was, likewise, with " the children of Solomon's servants ;" they 
resumed their position in their native land, of their own 
choice, and by no compulsion. And both the Nethinim and 
the descendants of Solomon's servants, had their families and 
lineal ancestry preserved in the genealogical register of the 
nation. They had " entered into the congregation of the 



Tho enumeration given by Ezra of the returned people, is, 
for the whole congregation, forty-two thousand three hundred 
and sixty, besides their servants and their maids, tarrna* 
enitnteK 1 !, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred 
thirty and seven ; and there were among them two hundred 
singing men and singing women. At first sight it might have 
been supposed that these singing men and singing women 
formed a part of the train of servants; but it does not appear 
so from the corresponding record of ISTehemiah : they were an 
additional class. They, with the servants and the maids, may 
all have been "bought" by the Jews during their captivity; 
but the purchase of a servant was no indication of slavery, 
where this language was customary to describe even the ac- 
quisition of a wife, or the buying of a Hebrew servant, who 
could not be a slave. The case of the free-born Hebrew sell- 
ing himself for money, Leviticus, xxv. 47, is in point; and the 
same person who has thus voluntarily sold his own time for 
money is afterward said to have been bought, xxv. 51. Such 
was the common usage of the term, not at all implying 

It seems remarkable that they should return from their 
captivity in such array : men-servants and maid-servants, 
crprrxNi crr^ay, seven thousand three hundred and thirty- 
seven ; singing men and singing women two hundred and 
forty-five, Nehemiah, vii. 67. To account for this, we have to 
turn to the prophet Isaiah, to the prediction of God, that when 
he should have mercy upon his captive people, and set them 
again in their own land, " the strangers should be joined wit/i 
them, and should bring them to their place, and the house of 
Israel should possess them in tho land of the Lord for serv- 
ants and handmaids, n'rrBtVi b*na»V, and they shall take them 
captives whose captives they were," Isaiah, xiv. 2. Here is a 
most remarkable fulfillment of prophecy. At the same time 


it is obvious that the whole arrangement of their servitude 
must have been of contract, and voluntary — a service for 
which remuneration was required and given. It must have 
been in every respect a service contracted and assumed, ac- 
cording to the principles and laws laid down in the Mosaic 
statutes, and in no respect a slavery such as those statutes 
were appointed to abolish. 

It is to be noted that, in the language of Nehemiah, the 
term nay, evedh, is not used in designating servants, but the 
word -i5>i, naar, young man / as, for example, Nehemiah, v. 16, 
spoken of the governor's servants, cro^yj, having borne rule 
over the people; also v. 16, all Nehemiah's servants, i-yi— fes ; 
also iv. 22, of the people with their servants, every one with 
his servant, *n$y\ fc" 1 * ; also iv. 23, I, nor my servants, i-rjin •>$«. 
The same in v. 10, and other places. The usage is plain, and 
not to be mistaken. The same usage prevails in the book of 

On the other hand, when Nehemiah intends to describe 
. what the Jews themselves had been in their captivity, he uses 
the word nay, evedh. For example, chapter v. 5, We bring 
into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, 
b">ns»V ti v f:p ; also ii. 10, Tobiah the servant, nssin rrs'-tai ; also 
ix. 36, We are servants, trnsy ; and xi. 3, The children of 
Solomon's servants, b">";a*. 

There was a " mixed multitude" that came up with the Is- 
raelites from the captivity, xiii. 3, and of this multitude the 
two hundred and forty-five singing men and singing women 
must have formed a part. The servants belonged to the same 
class; and there were a large number of strange women of 
'the Moabites, Ammonites, Egyptians, and others, with whom 
the people had intermarried, and formed families. These 
would bring their household servants with them ; but the 
class designated by Nehemiah as to^ys, naarim, must have 
been of a different character. They may have been free, and 
free-born in every respect, making their own contracts of 


service, and choosing their own masters. And whether n;?*, 
evedh, or *w;, nuar, whether strangers or natives of Palestine, 
they belonged, when circumcised, to the Jewish nation, and 
" might enter into the congregation of the Lord." They 
might have been slaves in Egypt, or Ethiopia, or Assyria, but 
they could not be such in Judea ; on the contrary, however 
degraded, in whatever country from which they came, the 
Mosaic Institutes immediately began to elevate and emanci- 
pate them. 

We find an interesting and important instance in the epi- 
sode related in 1 Chronicles, ii. 34, 35 — the case of the Egyp- 
tian Jarha, the servant of Sheshan, and adopted by him as his 
son, to whom he gave his daughter to wife, and the Jewish 
genealogy of the family continued uninterrupted in the line of 
their children. This is an instructive commentary on the 
laws ; and, being a case nearly parallel, in point of time, with 
the transactions in the book of Ruth (for Sheshan must have 
been nearly cotemporary with Boaz), it indicates, as well as 
that history, the admirable contrast between the freedom 
prevalent in Judea and the despotism in every other country. 
" I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out ot 
the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen ; and 
I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go up- 
right," Leviticus, xxvi. 13. The same emancipating power, 
exerted by God's interposing and protecting providence and 
discipline upon the Jews themselves, was also exercised by the 
system of statutes, privileges, and instructions under which 
the poorest and humblest creature in the land was brought, 
upon the bond-servants taken from the heathen : the bands of 
their yoke were broken, and they were made to go upright. 
" 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," Deuteronomy, xxiii. 7, 8. 



The people and the nation were absolutely forbidden to 
treat any race of strangers in their land as they had themselves 
been treated in the land of Egypt. Ye shall not oppress the 
stranger, for ye know the heart of the stranger, for ye were 
strangers in the land of Egypt ; and the stranger in your own 
land shall not be treated as ye were treated in the land of your 
bondage. Such was the benevolent tenor, and such the ex- 
plicit benevolent letter, of the laws of God in regard to the 
treatment of other races brought into Judea or sojourning in 
the land. How absurdly incongruous with these statutes is the 
supposition, which nevertheless many persons entertain, that 
the Hebrews were at liberty to make slaves of the heathen, 
the strangers round about. They were expressly interdicted 
from any such oppression, and warned against it. Their laws 
made it impossible. The reprobation of God against it is a 
solemn indication of the exasperated greatness of the sin in 
his sight, the sin against God and man, when a Christian na- 
tion, under so much greater light, distinctly enacts and prac- 
tices, on a vast scale, the oppressive cruelty which he has for- 
bidden ; brands a whole race of human beings as fit stuff only 
for slavery ; assumes the rightful possession of them for such 
bondage, to make perpetual slaves out of them, to be a supply 
of chattels from generation to generation. 


As God is said to have given to Christ the heathen for his 
inheritance, to save them, so the patrons, theologians, and 
devout workers and brokers of the slave theology profess to 
have received the Africans as their inheritance, to bring them 
through the hell of slavery (which in this case is the highest 
missionary agency,) to the heaven of a servile piety. It is 
impossible to regard without horror the diabolic caricature 
of religion, which has been evoked as from the bottomless pit, 
in support of this atrocity, and set with anthems in the church 
of Christ, with a more blasphemous impiety than ever attend- 


ed the enshrinement of Dagon or of Baal in the temple of the 
living God. The public solemn excommunication of a race 
of human beings from all the rights of humanity, and the con- 
secration of them in the name of piety and justice to the per- 
petual condition of a slavery in many respects the most cruel 
and unmitigated ever known upon the globe, was a spectacle 
reserved for the government, judiciary, and people of the 
United States of America in the nineteenth century of the 
Christian era. When we behold such a transaction, and read 
the new enactments and decisions of sweeping and exacer- 
bated cruelty, with which the vast speculative crime is being 
consummated in practice, we are filled with wonder at the 
long-suffering of God, that the bolts of divine vengeance do 
not suddenly break upon such a nation and people. 

It has been supposed that this system of iniquity could 
scarcely be carried to a higher point of juridical impiety than 
in the decision by the Chief Justice of the United States in the 
case of Dred Scott — a decision which was, in fact, a decree 
for the moral assassination of the race. But every step in 
this sin is onward, none backward, and the States are not to 
be outdone by the national government in their advancement. 
It might have been imagined that the slave code was already 
sufficiently barbarous, but the Dred Scott decision has shown 
that there was room for improvement, and now it is publicly 
decreed that negroes, or persons having the least tincture of 
African blood, are an inferior race, aliens, and not only aliens 
but enemies, excluded from civilized governments and the 
family of nations, and doomed to slavery. " It is the policy 
of this State," says the High Court of Errors and Appeals of 
the State of Mississippi, " to interdict commerce and comity 
with this race, and by law expressly provided, we enforce the 
strictest doctrines of the ancient law as applicable to alien 
enemies, except as to life and limb, against them. We en- 
slave them for life if they dare set their foot on our soil and 
omit to leave on notice in ten days, and this not on the prin- 


ciplc, supposed by some, of enmity, inhumanity or unkiudness 
to such inferior race, but on the great principles of self-preser- 
vation which have induced civilized nations in every age of 
the world to regard them as only fit for slaves." 

The hypocrisy that, in a Christian State, in the tribunal of 
justice, could pretend a necessity of self-preservation as the 
motive and the justification for such atrocities, is quite equal 
to the malignity of the atrocities themselves. In the lowest 
pitch ot Jewish or of pagan degradation no ancient people 
ever sank so low as this; even when any of the old uncivil- 
ized or demon nationalities contemplated a similar crime, they 
were not so lost to all truth and decency as to proclaim the 
falsehood that their own existence depended on the subjec- 
tion of a race of slaves, and that therefore they were not 
inhumanly, but most righteously, willingly and of necessity 
forced into such wickedness as a measure of self-defense. It 
was not till they had arrived at such a condition that they 
could compass the betrayal and crucifixion of the Saviour of 
mankind, their own Messiah, that even the Jews could pro- 
fess, as a justification of this murder, through the lips of the 
high priest of their religion and their justice, that it was 
necessary for the welfare of the state that one mau should be 
sacrificed, " that the whole nation perish not." These two 
crimes, the crucifixion of Christ and the consecration of the 
African race to slavery, on the same plea of state necessity, 
show that nothing but the affinity of the same depravity is 
wanting, to make even two such extremes meet in their utter- 
most corruption, as those of ancient Judaism and modern 
Christianity ; the same cruel selfishness will convert them, as 
with one leaven, into the same putrid mass. The Christianity 
that, under the plea of self-preservation, or, still worse, of a 
missionary benevolence, can maintain slavery as an element 
of justice and humanity, is not a whit behind the religion 
that, in the name of a religious state compassion and neces- 
sity, could crucify the Saviour of the world. 


In addition to the horrible barbarity which, by an act of 
national piracy, takes possession of a race of strangers and 
condemns them to be sold as slaves, just as savage wreckers 
would seize a stranded ship thrown upon the coast and steal 
both crew and cargo, or destroy the crew to possess the car- 
go, — in addition to this barbarity, the slave jurisprudence 
of our country proceeds to an extreme that never disgraced 
any other, that of excluding the miserable victims of such 
cruelty from all possibility of an appeal to justice against 
any violence or wrong, however diabolical. The laws of the 
Jews commended the stranger to the protection of the same 
statutes by which the people of the land were secured from 
cruelty and fraud. The laws even of the Romans provided 
some appeals to religion, if not justice, for the lowest slaves.* 
Our Christian system denies all possibility of any rights 
belonging to this persecuted, tortured, colored race, that 
their white persecutors, their missionary saviours, are bound 
to respect. We cast them out as mere things, chattels, and 
not persons, from all possibility of any appearance or status 
in a court of justice, or any claim upon the laws of the coun- 

* A fugitive slave, who entered a The laws against emancipation, and 
temple, or embraced a statue of a in favor of slavery, are every year 
god, or of an emperor, could not be more rigid, and every new decision is 
restored to his own master, but could made more unalterably against free- 
claim from the magistrate the privi- dom. Mr. Baker Woodruff, a slave 
lege of being sold at auction, the owner in New Orleans, who died in 
privilege, at least, of a change of May, 1857, ordered in his will that 
masters. The slaves were also al- his slaves, sixty-two in number, should 
lowed a peculium of their own, which be liberated and sent to Pennsylvania, 
might increase, by industry, to a small providing also for their passage thither 
patrimony, enabling them to buy their and their support during the first year, 
own liberty. But the slave in America The permission to apply any portion 
finds mercy neither from religion nor of the estate for the execution of this 
the law. The state of perpetual slav- will was denied by the court, on the 
ery is impudently proclaimed to be, for ground that the slaves could not be lib- 
him, the highest happiness of which erated. The Supreme Court of Appeals, 
he is capable on earth, and the surest in April, 1859, decided in the same 
pathway to the happiness of heaven, way, and tho slaves have been sold. 


try, save the security of being oppressed by those laws. 
They are subjects of law for oppression only, for use and 
abuse at the will of their so-called owners. It is not possible 
to convey in human language an adequate idea of the com- 
plication of cruelty and wrong, impiety toward God, inhu- 
manity toward man, defiance and violation of all just law, 
human and divine, and of every sentiment of benevolence and 
justice in the law of nature engraven on the common heart 
and conscience of mankind, with which, in this Christian 
country, and by a professedly Christian people, the miserable 
race of outcasts and yet natives, subjected to the state of 
slavery, are treated on the plea of having a skin not colored 
like our own. 

But the very worst feature of the crime is this, that the 
popular religion of the country accepts, defends and sanctions 
it ; and those persons are held to be bad citizens, agitators, 
disturbers, dangerous to the peace and good order of the 
state, suspicious and afflictive members of the church, not who 
defend slavery, but who oppose it, and demand its abolition 
as a sin against God and man ! It hurts no man's character 
or popularity to be a slaveholder ; it does not exclude him 
from membership even in missionary churches, nor from the 
station of corporate membership or directorship in missionary 
or Bible associations ; on the contrary, the ownership of slaves, 
or a known fellowship with the owners of them as Christians 
of unspotted piety, and a defense of the propriety and expe- 
diency of such continued ownership, make up an element of 
conservatism, that rather increases than diminishes the in- 
fluence of such a member of society. And Christian preachers 
can, without losing caste, declare, that if by a single prayer 
they could emancipate the slaves tbey would not do it ; that 
under Christian masters no condition can be conceived more 
favorable to salvation than that of the slaves ; that slavery 
possesses the divine sanction ; that nevertheless it is " a sore 
social evil, but was entailed upon us by God, that freedom 


might be established and Christianity spread over Africa !" 
Such monstrous wens and excrescences of moral pestilence men 
can carry about with them, and not be shunned by a sane and 
healthful society, nor quarantined in it ; while they who lift 
up their voices against this iniquity, and denounce it in the 
name of God, especially from his Word, from the pulpit on 
the Sabbath day, are marked for avoidance and suspicion, and 
wherever it is possible, ejected from their parishes, a'nd shut 
out from the opportunity of ministering God's truth. 

What an amazing and portentous phase of the Christian 
religion, what judicial blindness it would seem to intimate, 
and a state like that of the idolaters under the light of divine 
revelation, as described by the prophet Isaiah ; men who, 
with their eyes open, could carve out their own gods for them- 
selves, as schoolboys might cut a whistle or an image from a 
poplar branch, and burn the remainder of the stick in the lire; 
could carry their gods under their girdles or in their trowsers' 
pockets, and yet not be able even to suspect the folly of such 
idiotic debasement ; not so much unclouded reason left as to 
be capable of asking, " Is there not a lie in my right hand ?" 
It is an equally strange inconsistency, when men in one 
and the same breath proclaim, to the honor of Christianity, 
that its prevalence abolished Roman slavery, when almost uni- 
versal through the world, and that the very same Christianity, 
better known, reinstates a worse slavery in religious and en- 
lightened America, and inaugurates it as God's last, chosen 
and most effective system of social, civil, and missionary prog- 
ress and refinement 1 


The Children of Solomon's Servants. — The Tributary Service Levied on Them. 
— The Tributary Service of Strangers. — Nothing of Slavery in it.— Na- 
tions to Have Been Exterminated, but Admitted to the Tributary 
Service. — Condition of the Races Under this Law. — Bill of the Enslaved 
for Wages. 


The children of Solomon's servants, as well as the Nethinini, 
have the honor of being registered, according to their gene- 
alogy by families, as in Nehemiah, vii. 57-00. Ten individu- 
als, or heads of families, are named ; and their children are 
the children of Solomon's servants, numbering, together with 
the Nethinim, only three hundred and ninety-two. From the 
context it would appear that their fathers' house was consid- 
ered of Israel ; and they, being able to show their genealogy, 
were honorably distinguished from others, who could not 
show their fathers' house, nor their pedigree, whether they 
were of Israel, Nehemiah, vii. Gl. On the whole, it would 
seem that they were a favored class, and honorably distin- 
guished by their service, which was to them an hereditary 
privilege worthy of being retained, and not an ignoble or a 
toilsome separation, nor a mark of bondage. 

We must, however, consider their state and probable em- 
ployment, in connection with the following passages and 
proofs in regard to the tributary service levied by Solomon 
upon them and similar classes. In 2 Chronicles, ii. 17, 18, we 
find it recorded that Solomon numbered all the strangers that 
were in the land of Israel, after the numbering wherewith 


David his father had numbered them ; and they were found 
a hundred and fifty-three thousand and six hundred. And 
he set threescore and ten thousand of them to be bearers of 
burdens, and fourscore thousand to be hewers in the moun- 
tain, and three thousand and six hundred overseers, to set the 
people to work. See also 1 Kings, v. 15, 16. To this is add- 
ed, on occasion of the mention of Solomon's vast enterprises 
in the building of cities, the following historical record, 2 
Chronicles, vhj. 7, 8, 9 : " All the people left of the Hittites, 
and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the 
Jebusites, that were not of Israel, but were of their children 
who were left after them in the land, whom the children of 
Israel consumed not, them did Solomon make to pay tribute 
unto this day. But of the children of Israel did Solomon 
make no servants for his work." Comparing this with the 
similar record in 1 Kings, ix. 20, 21, 22, we find some addi- 
tional light as to the kind of tribute exacted : "Their children 
that were left after them in the land, whom the children of 
Israel were not able utterly to destroy, upon these did Solo- 
mon levy a tribute of bond-service, nsb* ott^>, a tribute of labor ; 
but of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondmen." 
The tiibute, then, was an appointed value, paid in manual 
labor, furnished by these tributary races, in the person of la- 
borers, who labored not as hired servants, but as working out 
the taxes of such service imposed by the monarch. 

All the strangers were numbered, n— ;r,r;, the same word 
used in Leviticus, xix, 33, 34, and other passages, as Exodus, 
xxii. 21 : "Thou shalt not oppress the stranger; the stranger 
shall be as one born amongst you, for ye were strangers in the 
land of Egypt." But these nations of Canaan, that were to 
have been utterly destroyed, see Deuteronomy, xx. 17, had 
never been exterminated, and the different tribes, in their in- 
heritance, could not drive them out; but as far and as fast as 
possible, put them to tribute, made them serve under tribute, 
nai oj;V, Joshua, xvi. 10, being precisely the same expression 


used in 2 Chronicles, viii. 9, and 1 Kings, ix. 21, of the tribute 
of bond-service levied by Solomon. See Joshua, xv. 63 and 
xvii. 12, 13 ; also Judges, i. 21, 27, 28, 30, 33, 35 ; also hi. 3, 5. 
This tributary service did not make them all hereditary bond- 
men ; but was a tax of service to a certain amount, levied 
according to fixed rules, so that these foreign races must sup- 
ply a sufficient number of laborers to work out that tax. The 
tax was a perpetual tribute ; consequently, the bond-service 
by which it must be paid, was perpetual, unless there had been 
a system of commutation, of which, however, we find no direct 
evidence. It was only the races of the land of Canaan, such 
as are mentioned in 1 Kings, ix. 20, 21, and 2 Chronicles, viii. 
7, that could by law be thus treated ; and such treatment was 
itself, in reality, a merciful commutation, instead of that de- 
struction to which they had originally been devoted. 

The numbering of these strangers for the work of building 
the temple, was begun by David ; that work was a public, 
national, and religious service, such as that to which the Gib- 
eonites, more especially, from the outset had been consecrated, 
at a time when it was supposed that they only, of all the in- 
habitants of Canaan, would have been spared. But a great 
many others were spared also ; so that, in the general num- 
bering of the people by Joab, at David's command, 2 Samuel, 
xxiv. 2, and 1 Chronicles, xxi. 2, the cities of the Hivites and 
of the Canaanites are particularly designated, 2 Samuel, xxiv. 
7 ; and comparing this with Joshua, xvii. 12, and Judges, i. 27 
-33, there is reason to suppose that the particular designation 
is with reference to the class of inhabitants. In this general 
census of the people, Joab seems to have noted these " stran- 
gers" by themselves ; and after this census " David command- 
ed to gather together the strangers that were in the land 
of Israel, and he set masons to hew wrought stones to build 
the house of God," 1 Chronicles, xxii. 2. It is doubtless to this 
that the reference is made in 2 Chronicles, ii. 1 7, " Solomon 
numbered all the strangers that were in the land of Israel, 


after the numbering wherewith David bis father had numbered 

That the strangers numbered and appointed for their work 
by David, and those numbered and appointed by Solomon, 
Mere of the same class, and that this class comprised the races 
named in Solomon's catalogue of tribes from whom he levied 
his tribute of bond-service, is rendered more certain by an 
examination of the number of foreigners or strangers of all 
classes that must have been, at this time, under the royal 
government of Israel. In 1 Chronicles, v. 10, 19, 20, 21, there 
is an account of a battle between the Reubenites and a very 
numerous tribe of Hagarites, in which the children of Israel 
gained a great victory, insomuch that they captured a hun- 
dred thousand souls. This was in the days of Saul. Besides 
these Hagarites, it is evident that the number of tributaries 
must have greatly increased from David's own wars, as is 
proved in 2 Samuel, viii. 4, 14. We should have a census of 
more than a hundred and fifty thousand "strangers," from 
these transactions alone; so that the number recorded in 2 
Chronicles, ii. 17 (a hundred and fifty-three thousand and six 
hundred) as being all the strangers in the land of Israel, must 
be taken as rated for legal bond-service, from the nations or 
remaining races of the Canaanites only. 

In this connection we must remember the law in regard to 
all heathen nations conquered in war, (except the Hittites, 
Amorites, Canaanites, Hivites, Perizzites, and Jebusites, de- 
voted to extermination,) which was as follows, Deuteronomy, 
xx. 10, 11 : " When thou comest nigh to a city to fight against 
it, then proclaim peace unto it; and it shall be, if it make thee 
answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be that all 
the people that is found therein shall be tributaries tmto thee, 
and they shall serve thee." Between these and the races of 
the Canaanites there seems to have been a distinction as to 
treatment always maintained. It would seem that Leviticus, 
xxv. 45, " Of the children of the strangers that do sojourn 


among you, of them shall ye buy," must refer particularly to 
the Canaanitish races, as we shall see more particularly in the 
examination of that passage. These nations and their descend- 
ants were to be made to pay a tribute of bond-service, such 
as the Hebrews could not exact from all the heathen, and 
were forbidden to impose on one another. Accordingly, in 
the account of such bond-service, as laid by Solomon on the 
descendants of these races, it is expressly stated in contrast, 
that " of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bond- 
men." A levy was raised at the same time, from all Israel, 
of thirty thousand men who labored in Lebanon, ten thousand 
a month, by courses, 1 Kings, v. 13, 14 ; but this was very 
different from the tribute of bond-service levied, which com- 
prised the threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens, and 
fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains. Along with 
these tributary and hereditary laborers, there were united the 
laborers obtained from Hiram, king of Tyre, for whose service 
Solomon paid Hiram, but not them : " unto thee will I give 
hire for thy servants, according to all that thou shalt appoint," 
1 Kings, v. G. 

That the condition of the races under this law of tributary 
service was not one of general or oppressive bondage, is clear 
from the position in which Araunah, the Jebusite, appears be- 
fore us in the interview between him and David, 2 Samuel, 
xxiv. Araunah, although of the tributary race, is a substan- 
tial householder and farmer, dwelling amidst his own posses- 
sions, and making a bargain with king David, as in every re- 
spect a freeman. Uriah, also, though high in the service of 
David, and having his house at Jerusalem, was a Hittite. The 
tributary service was evidently a very different thing from 
universal personal servitude. In the same way, from the 
transaction recorded in Exodus, ii. 9, we learn that the servi- 
tude of the Hebrews in Egypt was not so universal as that all 
were slaves, or treated as such. Pharaoh's daughter makes a 
bargain with the mother of Moses, for a nurse's service, and 


oives her her wages. The -woman is free to make such a bar- 
gain, and to receive such wages ou her own account. There 
is no master over her, notwithstanding that the tyranny of 
Pharaoh is so terrible that she dare not acknowledge her own 
child, lest he be put to death. 

In our own country there is a service of tribute, called the 
highway tax. Those who do not choose to pay this tax in 
money, may work it out, if they please, in person, or may 
hire laborers to work it out for them. The service of tribute 
levied upon the strangers in Judea, must have been some- 
thing such a service. It is possible that David's sin against 
God in numbering the people, may have consisted in some 
purposed odious distinction, oppressive and illegal, by which 
it was intended to set apart the descendants of the strange 
or foreign races, and to exact from them a tribute or im- 
pose upon them a bondage, in connection with the building of 
the temple, displeasing to God, and manifesting the style ot 
a conqueror, a despot, rather than a constitutional king. 
Joab's expostulation on the occasion, intimates some such 
difficulty ; for he takes pains to remind David that all the 
inhabitants of the land are equally the king's servants ; why 
then doth my Lord require this thing ? why will he be a 
cause of trespass to Israel ? Any such bondage of service 
as the Israelites had endured in Egypt, if laid upon the 
strangers in Israel, would have been contrary to the divine 
law. They were to be tributaries to the government, but 
not personal servants, except at their own pleasure. To treat 
them with cruelty, or make them the subjects of oppression 
such as the people of God had endured in Egypt, was ex- 
plicitly and many times forbidden. They could not be treated 
as the king's or any man's property, they could not be made 
slaves ; no service was ever to be laid upon them, which woixld 
take away their rights as freemen. 

Michaelis, in his Commentaries on the Laws of Moses, (vol. 
ii., page 185,) presents a Jewish Rabbinical story, illustrative 


of the oppression of taking men's labor without wages. The 
Egyptians (so the Jews relate,) sued the Jews for the gold 
and silver vessels carried oft* by their ancestors at their de- 
parture from Egypt, (the transaction of borrowing,) and in- 
sisted on their making restitution. One should suppose that 
the Jews would have pleaded the law of prescription. But 
ihey did no such thing. They readily admitted the claim, and 
offered restitution ; but they at the same time preferred a 
counter-claim of their own. For two hundred and ten years, 
said they, we were in Egypt, to the number of 600,000 men. 
We therefore, demand days' wages for that period, at the 
rate of a denarius for each man ; and our account stands 
thus: 365x210=70,050 days, the time of each man. This 
multiplied by 000,000 men, gives of denarii, 45,990,000,000, 
that is, of our money, two thousand eight hundred and seventy- 
four millions of ducats. On this the Egyptians began to wax 
warm, and dropped their suit. 

If a bill of this nature were made out by the four millions 
of slaves in our country, who could compute the amount of 
our robbery of their just wages? But God has calculated it,' 
and in good time will send in his bill for settlement.* 

* Granville Sharpe. Law of cessity of its abolition by the State 
Retribution against Tyrants, Slave- becomes more and more urgent, be- 
holders, and Oppressora Compare cause of the future, and Wiiewell 
Sir James Mackintosh's speech in (Vol. II., 1003. Duty of Abolition by 
the case of the Missionary Smith, the State) notes that "a State cannot 
Works, VoL III., p. 405. Compare, neglect this, without divesting itself, 
also, Whewell, Elements of Morali- to an extent shocking to all good men, 
ty, and Dymond, Essays, ch. xviii. of its moral character, and renounc- 
" Every hour of every day the present ing its hope of that moral progress 
possessor is guilty of injustice." The which is (ought to be) its highest 
guilt of rendering the crime hereditary purpose." Compare Goodell, Ameri- 
no man has attempted to compute, can Slave Code. Ownership aud use 
God only can measure it. The ne- without wages. Part I., ch. v., 10, 12 


Judgment of God against Slavery in Egypt.— Comparison with the Bondage of 
thf, Helots.— The Exodus of Israel from it.— The Mixed Multitude.— The 
Law of the Passover.— Religious Privileges of Servants.— Law of the Sab- 
bath.— Perversion of Terms.— The Year.— Sabbaths, and Annual Feasts. 

The first moral judgment of God concerning the slavery of 
Egypt was impressed upon the mind of Abraham in the cove- 
nant which God made with him : " Know of a surety that thy 
seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and 
they shall serve them, d-narj; and they shall afflict them, sass 1 ;; 
and also that nation whom they shall serve will I judge." The 
moral sense of Abraham was sufficiently enlightened to know 
that not simply because the subjects of oppression were of his 
seed, was such oppression sinful, but that the bondage, unless 
inflicted of God as a punishment for sin, was itself sinful. The 
slavery prevalent in Egypt is here condemned as a crime 
Avorthy to be punished. 

The first historical description of it, after this prophetic 
judgment, is in Exodus, i- 11:" They did set over them task- 
masters, to afflict them with their burdens," Tiay ^aV d-'sw -Kb 
er^rsa, overseers of tribute, on purpose for their oppression in 
their burdens. " And the Egyptians made the children of Is- 
rael to serve with rigor, and they made their lives bitter with 
hard bondage, n«;p T rnhsa, hard labor, in mortar and in brick, 
and in all manner of service in the field ; all their service 
Avherein they made them serve was with rigor," Exodus, i. 13, 
14. Now therefore behold the cry of the children of Israel is 
come unto me : and I have also seen the oppression, yhi, where- 
with the Egyptians oppress them, Exodus, iii. 9. The same 



word is used in Exodus, xxiii. 9: " Thou shalt not oppress a 
stranger." This dreadful bondage was a type of the slavery 
■ of sin ; as also the passover, in memory of their deliverance, 
was a most affecting and powerfully significant type of re- 
demption by the blood of Christ. 

This bondage, continued, would have become a Helot ism, 
and was fast verging to a system of perpetuated oppression 
and cruelty, like that described by historians as having been 
endured by the unhappy conquered victims of despotism in 
the Spartan state. It might have been all that, and still at a 
great remove from the dehumauizing cruelty of American 

were a part of the State, " having their 
domestic and social sympathies devel- 
oped, a certain power of acquiring 
property, and the consciousness of 
Grecian lineage and dialect." 

Deprived of their liberty, oppressed 
and maltreated, they were dreaded by 
their tyrants, who adopted measures 
against them, to prevent their in- 
crease and insurrection, singularly re- 
minding us of the policy of Pharaoh 
and the princes of Egypt towards the 
Hebrews. The terror of Helotic re- 
volt sharpened the cruelty of the 
Spartans, and led them to " combina- 
tions of cunning and atrocity, which 
even yet stand without parallel in the 
long list of precautions for fortifying 
unjust dominion." On the authority 
of Thucydides we learn that on one 
occasion two thousand of the bravest 
among the Helots were entrapped by 
promises of liberty, and assassinated 
at once. On the authority of Plu- 
tarch, from Aristotle, it was an insti- 
tution of the State, that every year 
war should be declared against the 
Helots, " in order that the murder of 
them might bo rendered innocent ;" 
and that " active young Spartaus 
should be armed with daggers and 

* Grote's History of Greece, vol. 
ii., pp. 372-379. Helots in the Vil- 

The condition of the Helots under 
the tyranny of Sparta, treated like 
slaves, yet never sold out of the coun- 
try, and, probably, never sold at all ; 
beaten, down-trodden, put to death 
without punishment of their murder- 
ers, yet belonging not so much to the 
master as to the State ; " living in the 
rural villages as adscripti glebce, culti- 
vating their lands, and paying over 
their rent to the master at Sparta, but 
enjoying their homes, wives, families 
and mutual neighborly feelings apart 
from the master's view;" — this con- 
dition would represent much more 
nearly the state of the Hebrews un- 
der thoir Egyptian bondage, and 
would give a fairer idea of their op- 
pression, than can be drawn from 
modem slavery. The Helots were a 
conquered race. The word, accord- 
ing to some etymologists, is synony- 
mous with captive ; according to oth- 
ers, derived from tho town of Helos, 
" which tho Spartans are said to have 
taken after a resistance so obstinate 
as to provoke them to deal very rig- 
orously with the captives." They 



Out of this bondage, when God delivered them, they went 
up, " about six hundred thousand men, on foot, besides chil- 
dren ; and a mixed multitude went up also with them, and 
flocks, and herds, very much cattle," Exodus, xii. 37, 38. The 

sent about Laconia, either in solitude 
or at night, to assassinate such of the 
Helots as were considered formid- 

How long it may be before the in- 
comparably more atrocious and crimi- 
nal system of American slavery, with 
the frightful increase and intelligence 
of its victims, may lead to similar hor- 
rible combinations on the part of mas- 
ters and of the government, and simi- 
lar assassinations, sanctioned by law, 
under pretense of the necessity of self- 
defense from the apprehended horrors 
of a servile insurrection, is only known 
to that God whose own vengeance 
merely waits the justest and most 
perfect time. Meanwhile, the pro- 
posed reduction of the free blacks in- 
to slavery, the doctrine practiced as 
an edict, that black men have no 
rights that white men are bound to 
respect, the renewal and intended 
sanction of the foreign slave-trade by 
law, the proposed establishment of 
slavery in free territories, and enact- 
ment by the government of a special 
code of slave laws for the protection 
and perpetuity of slave-property, in 
addition to the savage barbarity of 
existing State slave codes, make the 
crime and guilt of this Christian peo- 
ple incomparably greater than any 
ever committed by the government 
or people of Sparta, or any other pa- 
gan nation in the world. What we 
think to sanction, and defend from 
Heaven's reprobation, and commend 
as duty to Christian families and 
churches by human law, is a far 
greater outrage of the conscience, and 

defiance against God and nature, than 
the law of war against the Helots on 
purpose for the sanction of their mur- 

The manumitted Helots, those who 
had gained their liberty by signal 
bravery, and those whose superior 
beauty or stature placed them above 
the visible stamp of their condition, 
were regarded in the Lacedemonian 
community with peculiar apprehen- 
sion, and if not put to death, were 
employed on foreign service, or plant- 
ed on some foreign soil as settlers. 
The intervention of colonization socie- 
ties as safety valves for the security 
of slave property in this country, had 
not been suggested, neither does it 
seem to have been the custom to im- 
prison the subjects of such tyranny 
and jealousy, and then sell them for 
their jail fees. But it is stated that 
the Helots " were beaten every year, 
without any special fault, in order to 
put them in mind of their slavery; 
while such masters as neglected to 
keep down the spirit of their vigorous 
Helots were punished." 

Slave-breeding does not seem to 
have been an element of the Spartan 
chivalry, nor an employment of the 
first families, or oldest and most aris- 
tocratic class of the State. The sell- 
ing of slaves not being customary, 
the breeding of them for high prices 
never came to be a profitable busi- 
ness. Indeed, in this quality of glory, 
this feat of mammon and of morals, 
the Christian slave States of America 
surpass the accomplishments of any 
other age or nation in the world. 


mixed multitude, a^?, are nowhere definitely described. The 
question whether they had bond-servauts of their own, whom 
they carried away with them from Egypt, might possibly be 
settled could we have a classification of that mixed multitude. 
On the whole, it seems not probable that any Egyptians were 
under bond-service to them, and their own race were certainly 
not slaves to one another, though they might be servants. If 
they had foreign servants, not of their own race, we judge 
(from the manner of the enumeration in a similar case, namely, 
the return of the Jews from the captivity in Babylon), it 
would have been distinctly stated. In Ezra, ii. 64, 65, and 
Neheniiah, vii. 66, 67, as already noted, the number of the 
whole congregation of Israel, is first given, as in Exodus, and 
then it is added, " besides their men-servants and their maid- 
servants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred 
and thirty-seven." The whole number of the people to be 
cared for and to be fed, are again mentioned by Moses in 
Numbers, xi. 21, as six hundred thousand footmen, no refer- 
ence being made to any others than those named in the first 
census. The mixed multitude, also, are again referred to in 
the same chapter by themselves : " The mixed multitude that 
was among them fell a lusting," Numbers, xi. 4 ; but no refer- 
ence is found to the servants among them. 

In regard to this point, it is impossible to determine abso- 
lutely from the law -of the passover, because that law looked 
to the future condition of the congregation, providing for fu- 
ture emergencies. No uncircumcised stranger might eat of 
the passover ; but every man's servant, bought for money and 
circumcised, might eat of it. The uncircumcised foreigner 
and hired servant might not eat of it ; and both the home- 
born and the stranger were under one and the same law in re- 
gard to it, Exodus, xii. 43-49 ; Numbers, ix.14 . The servant 
bought for money was bought into the Lord's family ; he was, 
in point of fact, redeemed from bondage into comparative free- 
dom, taken under God's especial care, and from a system of 


lawless slavery, passed into a system of responsibility to God, 
both on the part of the master and on his own part. It was 
a change of amazing mercy, from hopeless heathenish bond- 
age to the dignity of citizenship in the commonwealth of 


After the law of the passover, the first indication looking to 
the condition of servants is in the law of the Sabbath, Exodus, 
xx. 10 : " Thou shalt not do any work ; thou, nor thy son, nor 
thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, 'qr-KN} 
^Ttv" This was a provision unheard of in the world, a pro- 
vision necessary for the religious jn - ivileges and freedom of 
those under servitude, a provision which alone, if there had 
been no other, would have separated the condition of servants 
and the system of menial service, among the Hebrews, from 
that among any other people on earth, raising it to a partici- 
pation in the care and sanction of God, and transfiguring it with 
social dignity and liberty. Such would be the effect of the 
Sabbath, fully observed according to its intent and precept, 
upon the system of labor and the condition of the laboring 
man, all the world over ; for the Sabbath is the master-key to 
all forms and means of social regeneration, freedom, and hap- 
piness. But it was a new thing in the world for the leading, 
governing gift, privilege, and institution of instruction, refine- 
ment, and piety to be conferred upon the poor as well as the 
rich ; upon the serving and laboring classes equally with the 
ruling ; and appointed as directly and on purpose for the en- 
joyment and benefit of the one class as of the other. The 
work of the transfiguration of the toil and bondage into a sys- 
tem of free and voluntary service, carefully defined, protected, 
and rewarded, adopted and adorned of God with all the equal- 
izing religious rights flowing from a theocracy to the whole 
people ; this work, thus begun in the appointment of the Sab- 
bath, was carried on, as we shall see, in the same spirit, and 


with the same purpose, in all additional regulations, till society, 
in this its normal form, became (as it would have continued, in 
reality, if the appointed form had been carried out) a fit type 
of the Christian dispensation to come, " where there is neither 
Jew nor Greek, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, 
Scythian, bond nor free ; but Christ all and in all," Colossians, 
iii. 11, and Galatians, iii. 28. Such an institution of free and 
willing service, guarded by the law as an integral portion of a 
free and happy state, was preparing and molding, by divine 
command, and in form was perfected, as should not need to be 
put away or unclothed, at Christ's coming, but was fitted to 
be clothed upon with his Spirit, and sanctioned by his benedic- 
tion. This was to take the place of slavery, was to put slavery 
out of existence ; and, wherever and whenever the oppressed 
of other communities should be gathered beneath its opera- 
tion, was to make freemen of slaves. 

There is a striking particularity in one of the repetitions of 
the law of the Sabbath, Exodus, xxiii. 12, where the servile 
classes specified in the first normal form are omitted, and the 
purpose of the Sabbath's rest is stated to be " that the son of 
thine handmaid^ and the stranger, may be refreshed." Here 
the expression, "son of thine handmaifl," is ^rwx— ;a, the same 
as used in Psalm cxvi. 10, of David : "I am thy servant, and 
the son of thine handmaid." I am not a servant, but thy 
servant, and the son of thine handmaid. The son of the 
handmaid, in Exodus, xxiii. 12, is catalogued in the same class 
and standing with the free stranger ; and the passage is cer- 
tainly, in some measure, a key to the interpretation of the ex- 
pressions, " , r-'s— )D and rr:c— t£-, Genesis, xv. 3; xvii. 12, 13; 
Leviticus, xxiii. 11; Ecclesiastes, ii. 7; and Jeremiah, ii. 14. 
These expressions, so far from indicating slaves, as the assump- 
tions and perverse interpretations of some lexicographers and 
translators might lead the English reader to suppose, do not 
necessarily even mean servants, but are a form of expression 
purposely separate and different from the generic appellation 


for servants, because they intimated a relation to the master, 
and the family which was not that of seryants. The condi- 
tion of the child did not follow that of the parent ; but, after 
the period of natural dependence and minority, the fi^a— 15a 
and the rv5 ^V?, the sons of the house, and the bom of the 
house, or home-born, were their own masters, free to choose 
for themselves the master whom they would serve, and the 
terms on which they would serve him. This is susceptible of 
demonstration beyond possibility of denial in regard to chil- 
dren of Hebrew descent, because not even the parents could, 
by law, be kept as servants longer than six years ; and, of 
course, the children, being Hebrews equally with the parents, 
and coming under the same law, could no more be so held 
than the parents themselves. 

This shows how monstrous is the assumption and perversion 
of the lexicons, beginning with the fons et origo of modern 
interpretation, that of Gesenius, when they deliberately, and 
without one particle of proof, render these expressions by the 
Latin word, verna, followed by English translators with the 
word slave. Neither by periphrasis, nor literal signification, 
can these expressions be so interpreted ; never, in any case, 
in which they are used. And if the literal interpretation had, 
in every case, been adhered to, sons of the house and born of 
the house, instead of the word slave, employed in the lexi- 
cons, or servant, which is mostly used in our translation, no 
one could have connected the idea of servitude with these 
expressions, much less the idea of slavery. For example, the 
literal translation of Ecclesiastes, ii. 7, is thus : " I obtained 
servants and maidens, and there were to me sons of the house," 
■3s n;n rrn— ^as, a relationship of dependence, certainly, and 
showing wealth and perpetuity in the family, whose servants 
were not hirelings merely, but voluntary domestic fixtures, 
of choice as well as dependence; but not a relationship of 
compulsory servitude, or slavery, or of servants considered as 
property. Now the transfer of the deirradino- and infamous 


dhattelism signified in the Latin word verna and the English 
word slave to such a relationship, and to the phrase son of the 
house, or bom of the house, as its true meaning among the 
Hebrews, is one of the most unauthorized and outrageous 
perversions ever inflicted upon human language. It is almost 
blasphemous, as designed to fix the blot and infamy of slavery 
upon what was and is the noblest, most benevolent, most care- 
fully guarded, freest, and most affectionate system of domes- 
tic service in the world. 

It is a system of such freedom and benevolence, and so in- 
geniously designed and adapted to conquer every surrounding 
and prevailing form of slavery, and subdue it to itself, that its 
infinite superiority to the selfish law and oppressed condition 
of the world, and its enthronement of benevolence instead of 
power as the ruling impulse and object (in that part of social 
legislation especially, where the law and custom of mankind 
have made selfishness not only supreme, but just, expedient, 
and even necessary,) are something supernatural. The con- 
trast and opposition of this system over against the creed and 
habit of power, luxury, oppressive selfishness, and slavery, so 
long prevalent without question of its right, is, by itself, an 
impregnable proof of the divine inspiration of the Pentateuch. 
It is a proof, the shining and the glory of which have been 
clouded and darkened by the anachronisms, prejudices, and 
misinterpretations of Biblical archajologists and translators, 
but which is destined to be yet cleared, and acknowledged by 
the Christian world with gratitude to God. "We shall at length 
cease to look to Arab or Egyptian sheikhs and pashas for 
illustrations of the life of Abraham, and to Roman or Amer- 
ican slaves for pictures of the Hebrew households. 


But besides the weekly Sabbath of devotion, every seven 
years the land should keep a Sabbath of a whole year unto 
the Lord, the seventh year, a Sabbath of rest for the land, 


and, in consequence, for all classes of servants : " And the 
Sabbath of the land shall be meat for you ; for thee, and for 
thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and 
for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee," Leviticus, xxv. 
27. Here the i£i\ the servant of all work, the nttN, the maid- 
servant, and the Tftip, the hired servant, are all specified ; the 
seventh year belongs to them as well as to their masters. In 
Exodus, xxiii. 11, 12, these two institutions of the year-sab- 
bath and the seventh-day Sabbath are coupled, and the pur- 
pose specified is that of rest and refreshment " for the son of 
thine handmaid and the stranger," *aty\ ^wax— )a. Here are 
already two sevenths of the time of life guarantied to the serv- 
ants for rest and sacred discipline. The injunction of a cir- 
cumspect piety is added to the enactment of both these or- 

Then in the same chapter, the three great annual feasts fol- 
low, enacted in order, Exodus, xxiii. 14-17, these enactments 
being drawn out with minute detail and precision in Deuter- 
onomy, xvi. 2-16, and they are designated as the Feast of 
Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tab- 
ernacles. In Exodus, xxxiv. 21-23, the weekly Sabbath and 
these three annual festivals are coupled in the same manner 
as the Sabbath and the seventh year of rest in Exodus, xxiii. 
The spirit of these festivals and their duration are described 
in Deuteronomy, xvi., and Leviticus, xxiii. 34-43. And the 
equalizing benevolence of these institutions is the more marked 
by the repetition of the rule: "Thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, 
before the Lord thy God ; thou, and thy son, and thy daugh- 
ter, and thy man-servant, and thy maid-servant, and the Le- 
vite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the father- 
less, and the widow that are among you," Deuteronomy, xvi. 
11. Taking into consideration the time necessary for going 
and returning to and from each of these great festivals, to- 
gether with their duration, we have in their observance some 
six weeks, or nearly another seventh of the whole time devot- 



ed, for the servants as well as the masters, to religious joy, 
and rest and refreshment. 

Then, in addition, are to be reckoned the Feast of Trum- 
pets, Leviticus, xxiii. 24, the Day of Atonement, xxiii. 27-34, 
and xvi. 29, the Feast of the New Moon, Numbers, xxviii. 11. 
Hosea, ii. 11 ; Ezekiel, xlvi. 1, 3. If to these we add the Feasts 
of Purirn and the Dedication, and the oft-recurring joyous 
family festivals, 1 Samuel, xx. 6, Genesis, xxi. 8, we have more 
than three sevenths, or nearly one half the time of the serv- 
ants given to them for their own disposal and enjoyment, 
instruction and piety, unvexed by servile labors, on a footing 
of almost absolute equality and affectionate familiarity and 
kindness with the whole household : father, mother, son, 
daughter, man-servant and maid-servant, all having the same 
religious rights and privileges — " They go from strength to 
strength, every one of them in Zion appearing before God." 
How beautiful, how elevating, how joyous was such a national 
religion, and how adapted to produce and renew continually 
that spirit of humility and love, in the exercise of which the 
whole law was concentrated and fulfilled.*' 

* Saalschutz. Das Mosaische Eecht. 
Laws of Moses, Vol. II., 715, refers to 
the appellation of the Oak of Weeping, 
Gen. xxxv., 8, given on occasion of 
the death of Rebecca's nurse, as a 
proof of the intimacy and affectionate 
equality with which the servants en- 
tered among the family relationships 
of the Hebrews. Saalschutz re- 
marks very truly that nothing more 
felicitous could have happened to a 
heathen slave than to have been sold 
into Judea, where a law prevailed, 
leading, central, fundamental, by 

which he was released from his mas- 
ter, if he choose to quit the service, for 
he could escape from him, and the 
whole Hebrew world were forbidden 
to do anything towards bringing him 
back, but were bound of God to shel- 
ter the fugitive. In all the earth there 
never has been such an expression of 
kindness in human law towards the 
oppressed and persecuted. Compare 
Graves on the Pentateuch, P. II., 
L. iii. Also. Lelaxd's Divine Au- 
thority 0. and N. T., 75. Also, Judge 
Jat on Hebrew Servitude. 


Times of Service of the Hebrew Servant. — Jacob's Time and Wages with La- 
ban. — Appoint. — Outfit of the Six Years' Servant, at the End of His Ap- 
prentioeship. — Wages of tiie Servant Considered, but the Price of a Mas 
Never. — No such Thing Recognized as the Owner of a Man. — Nor Servant 
without Wages. — Only Condition on which the Servant could be Kept 
till TnE Jubilee. — The Transaction Voluntary, the Conditions Exact. — Mar- 
ried Persons Engaging as Servants.— Average Time of Jubilee Contracts. 
— Penalties Against Cruelty to Servants. 

We have seen what a transfiguration would be produced 
by a religions and legal system, that gave to the servants 
nearly one half their time for their own disposal, in the observ- 
ance of the rites, and enjoyment of the privileges of the na- 
tional religion. We are now to consider the times of service, 
and the manner of treatment, both for Hebrew and heathen 
servants, on engagements or contracts, always voluntary, and 
arranged with legal exactness. 



The section in Exodus, xxi. 2-11, prescribing the time and 
treatment for the Hebrew servant, is full of instruction : "If 
thou buy a Hebrew servant, "nias -ns »)?in, six years he shall 
serve, "i'=?.:; and in the seventh he shall go out free for noth- 
ing," nsh ■»»fih% ns" ; his term of service expires, and he is free 
without cost. He had himself sold his own time and labor to 
his master, by contract, for six years — no longer ; and this was 
called buying a Hebrew servant. Such a servant was not the 
master's property, nor is ever called such, although he might 
have been described as " his money ;" that is, he had paid in 
money for his services, for so long a time, and, in that sense, 


he was his money, but in no other. We have already noted 
the usage of the word n:p T , to buy ; and its application in de- 
scribing the purchase of persons in such relations as to forbid the 
idea of property or slavery. This is one of those instances. 
The Hebrew servant was bought with money, yet he was in 
no sense a slave, or the property of his master. In entering 
into a six years' contract of service, he was said to have sold 
himself; yet he was not a slave. He might extend this con- 
tract to the longest period ever allowed by law, that is, to the 
Jubilee ; yet still he was not property, he was not a slave ; 
his service was the fulfillment of a voluntary contract, for 
which a stipulated equivalent was required, and given to him- 
self. The reason for the adoption or appointment of six years 
for the ordinary legal contract of Hebrew servitude is not 
given ; but doubtless the arrangement was based upon some 
previous custom or statute ; perhaps some social law like that 
which must have led Jacob to propose a service of seven years 
to Laban for his wife, Genesis, xxix. 18, and six years for his 
cattle, Genesis, xxxii. 41. " Twenty years have I been in thy 
house ; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, 
and six years for thy cattle." The period of service with the 
year of release, thus made a septennium, a week of years, the 
multiplication of which seven times brought them to the great 
Jubilee of universal national freedom, equality and joy.* 

This section is to be compared with Deuteronomy, xv. 12— 
18:7/' thy brother be sold, that is, if he have hired himself 

* It ia worthy of note, as indicat- upon a member of a family, much 

ing the general moral sense of the so- more could not a stranger be com- 

eial circle in which A lira ham, Isaac, polled into such service. Laban'sman- 

and Jacob moved as patriarchal legis- ner of speaking is an intimation that 

lators, that even in Laban's mind, the involuntary and unpaid servitude was, 

idea of any man serving another with- in their society, a thing unknown, an 

out wages was absurd, not to say enormity. " Because thou art my 

immoral. Even a brother, a near brother, shouldst thou serve mo for 

kinsman was not expected to do this, nought ? Tell me, what shall thy 

much more a stranger; and if service wages be?" Genesis, xxix. 15. 
without wages could not be imposed 


to thee, and serve thee six years ; or if a Hebrew woman do 
the same ; then, when this period of service is ended, not 
only is he free, as above, bnt thou shalt not let him go away 
empty. Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, 
and out of thy floor, and out of thy wine-press. This extra- 
ordinary provision of an outfit was some offset, and was in- 
tended to be such, for the comparatively low wages of a six 
years' t:m>, evedh, or servant, as compared with the wages of a 
hired servant, by the year or by the day. It was a great in- 
ducement to continue the engagement to the end of the con- 
tract, and not be seeking another master. And at the same 
time it is enjoined as a reason why the master should be lib- 
eral in this outfit, that he has gained so much more from the 
labor of the servant in six years, than he could have done if 
he had contracted with him as a T>sto or hired servant. The 
computation is made as follows : lie hath been worth a double 
hired servant, in serving thee six years • T\"^?. "i^b nsio rt5*», 
double the wages of a hireling serving thee ; that is, if thou 
hadst hired a servant by the year, and kept him six years, he 
would have cost thee twice as much as a servant whom thou 
buy est or contractest with, for six years at a time. 


Suppose that for a six years' term a man could be engaged 
for eighteen shekels ; then a yearly hired servant could not 
be got for less than six shekels the year ; it would, therefore, 
in most cases, be more desirable to engage a six years' iay, 
evedh, than to hire by the year; and, notwithstanding the dif- 
ference in price, it might, in many cases, be more desirable for 
the servant also. Micah, in the case recorded in Judges, xvii., 
hired a young Levite from Bethlehem Judah, to dwell with 
him as his priest, for wages; and he gave him ten shekels of 
silver, and a suit of apparel, and his victuals, by the year. 
There are no such examples of specific contracts with ordinary 
servants recorded ; but the price of Joseph's sale to the mer- 


chant-men of the Midianites, was twenty skekels of silver. The 
sum to be paid when a man-servant or maid-servant was 
gored to death by an ox was thirty shekels of silver to the 
master, Exodus, xxi. 32, the price, perhaps, of a six years' 
contract. The price of the prophet, in Zechariah, xi. 12, or 
the hire or wages, (veto is the word used,) at which he and his 
services were valued, and paid, was thirty shekels of silver. 
The redemption-price for a man who had vowed himself to 
the Lord, Avas fifty shekels of silver from twenty years of age 
till sixty ; and for a woman, thirty shekels ; from five years to 
twenty, twenty shekels for a man, ten for a woman ; from a 
month to five years old, five shekels for the man-child, three 
for the girl. And it is added, from sixty years old and above, 
fifteen for the man, ten for the woman. This was the priest's 
estimation of the persons for the Lord, Leviticus, xxvii. 2-7. 
Now this seems an estimate adopted from the value of labor 
or service at these different periods, the value of a man's 
time and labor. 


Now, the wages of a man as a servant are often the subject 
of consideration in the Scriptures, but the price of a man 
never. There is no such idea recognized as the price of a 
servant considered as property, or as if he were a thing of 
barter and sale : his owner is never spoken of; there is no 
such thing as the owner of a man, and no such quality is ever 
recognized as that of such ownership. When the recompense 
is appointed for the master whose servant has been killed by 
another's ox, it is the master, not the owner, to whom the 
recompense is to be made, as master, not as owner. The 
words employed are strikingly different, Exodus, xxi. 32 : If 
the ox shall push a man-servant or maid-servant, he shall give 
unto their master, vs'ikV, adhonai, the word applied to Jehovah 
as Lord. But Exodus, xxi. 29, 34, 36, if the ox hath been 
used to push, or if a pit have been digged and not covered, 


their owner, i»a, baal, shall make it good. The selection and 
appplication of the words are emphatic.* 

There was no servant without wages, either paid before- 
hand, for a terra of years, or paid daily, if hired by the day, 
or annually, as the case might be. The three kinds of con- 
tract or service, and of corresponding wages, are specified ; 
first, generally, Leviticus, xix. 13, the wages of him that is hired 
shall not abide with thee all night until morning, "VOto hVss , 
the reward of the hired servant ; second, Job, vii. 1, his days 
like the days of an hireling ; third, Leviticus, xxv. 53, as a 
yearly hired servant; fourth, Exodus, xxi. 2, where the rule 
seems referred to as most common, of a six years' service and 
contract. There was no indefiniteness in any of the legal pro- 
visions, no difficulty in ascertaining each servant's rights ; and 
they were not only secured by law, but such tremendous de- 
nunciations were added in the prophets, as that in Jeremiah, 
xxii. 13 : Woe unto him that useth his neighbor's service with- 
out wages, and giveth him not for his work; and Malachi, iii. 
5 : I will be a swift witness against those who defraud the hire- 
ling in his wages, and keep the stranger from his right. The 
stranger comprehended servants, as well as sojourners, of hea- 
then extraction. 

Now when the recompense of thirty skekels was ordained 
for the roaster, whose servant had been gored by another 
man's ox, they were to be paid, not because the servant was 
his, as property, or as being worth that price, as if he were a 
slave, a chattel, belonging to an owner, but because the mas- 

* Josephtjs' Antiquities, book iv., hold with the servants. The goods 

chap.viii.sec.36. The discrimination of were owned, the men were governed; 

Josephus in referring to these laws is the goods, the cattle, were chattels, 

emphatic. He applies a different word property ; the servants were persons, 

to the owner of the cattle and the men, their own only owners, with 

master of the servant; although the * freedom to dispose of their services 

difference in the Greek can not be so for a proper and just equivalent in 

strikingly illustrative of the distinction wages. The description in Josephus 

in the original between the owner of is very properly, owner of the cattle, 

property and the master of a house- master of the servants. 


ter had paid to him the price of a certain number of years of 
labor, which years the servant owed ; and therefore the recom- 
pense was for the loss of that part of the service which had. 
been paid for, but, by reason of death, could not be fulfilled. 
The master did not and could not own him, in any case, but 
only had a claim to his time and labor, so far as it had been 
contracted and paid for. It must have been paid for before- 
hand, because, otherwise, if the servant's pay had not been 
promised till after the time of the contract, the master would 
have been owing the servant at his death, and could have no 
claim, but the nearest of the family of the servant would have 
had the claim. But the case being that of the -t^y, the six 
years' hired servant, or perhaps the servant obtained from 
among the heathen, the master has the claim for services which 
were paid for, but not fulfilled. 

The legal term of service for six years could not be length- 
ened, except at the pleasure of the servant. The man-servant 
and the maid-servant were equally free in making their con- 
tracts ; neither of them could be held at the pleasure of the 
master, nor could be disposed of, but at their own pleasure. 
They were perfectly free, excej^t so far as by their own act 
and free will they had bound themselves for an equivalent to 
a term of service. Under certain contingencies they could, by 
law, compel their master to keep them, but he could^never use 
them as property, never make merchandise of them, never 
transfer them over to another. If a maid-servant chose to 
contract herself to her master's family, in such manner that he 
on his part could keep her till the jubilee, and she on her part 
could forbid his sending her away, then both herself and her 
children were to remain till that time. The covenant was 
legal and explicit. They were bound to him, in his service, 
and could not quit, but with his consent, till that time. On 
the other hand, he was bound to them, and could not transfer 
them to another family, country, or household, nor any one 
of them, nor convey their service to any other person. 



This is to be regarded, in examining the next clause, which 
states the one only condition on which the servant could be 
retained by the master until the jubilee. If, during his period 
of six years' service, his master.had given him a wife, and she 
had borne him children, then, at the end of the six years, he 
could not, in quitting his master's service, compel the master 
to relinquish the contract, whatever it was, which had given 
him a right to the service of the maid-servant, his wife, for a 
still longer period, or to the jubilee. It was optional with 
him to leave his wife and children with his master, and go out 
from his service by himself alone, or he could stay, and with 
his wife and children engage with his master anew until the 
jubilee; and his master could never separate the family, nor 
send any one of them away, nor violate any of the terms of 
the contract ; and both for time and for wages, the covenant 
was at the pleasure of the servant, as well as the master, and 
by law the master was compelled to treat him as a n:£a nitti 
"Vttes, as a yearly hired servant, and not as an is?, or servant 
of all times and all work ; as a servant on stipulated monthly 
or yearly wages, and not as one whose whole time of service 
until the jubilee had been bargained for and paid for in the 
lump. The whole covenant was determined and ratified in 
court, before the judges, with the greatest care and solemnity, 
on the affirmation of the servant that he loved not only his 
wife and children, but his master also, and his house, and was 
well with him, (compare Deuteronomy, xv. 10,) and would not 
go away from him. The sign of the covenant, and its proof 
positive and incontrovertible, so that neither master nor serv- 
ant could by fraud have broken it, was the boring of the ear, 
both of man-servant and maid-servant. 

This transaction was entered into by the servant, notwith- 
standing the claim of a liberal outfit from his master, from the 


flock, and the floor, and the wine-press, to which he was enti- 
tled by law, if he chose to leave his service. The receiving a 
wife from his master, during any time of his six years' service, 
was also at the servant's own pleasure ; all the conditions of 
such marriage being perfectly well known to him, the dowry 
which he would have to pay for hie wife, if he remained with 
her, being in part the assuming,of a new contract of service with 
the master, as long as hers had been assumed, or to the jubilee. 
And then, they and their children would go from his service, 
with all the property they had been able to acquire by their 
wages and privileges in his household. This, if they had been 
provident and sagacious in the use of lawful means and oppor- 
tunities, might at length amount to an important sum. The 
servant might become possessor of a competency, during a 
twenty-five or thirty years' sojourn in his master's family. 
And the servant born in the house, his son, tra t>V, the home- 
born, rra— >5ai, or of the sons of the house, might become his 
master's heir, as in the household of Abraham ; or he himself 
might be his master's steward, with all the wealth of the es- 
tablishment under his hand. 

The position of such an nay, or Hebrew servant, or even 
heathen servant, as in the case of Eliezer of Damascus, might 
be more desirable than that of the hired servant not belong- 
ing to the family. It was only households of comparatively 
considerable wealth that could afford to enter into such con- 
tracts with their servants, or to keep a retinue of retainers 
born in the house. Hence the fact of having such a class of 
servants is referred to in such a manner as proves it to have 
been esteemed a mark of greatness and prosperity, Ecclesi- 
astes, ii. V. And these domestic servants, born in the family 
and holding by law such a claim upon it, were attached to it, 
and its members to them, with an affection and kindness like 
that of its sons and daughters, one toward another. Perhaps 
the passage in Jeremiah, ii. 14, may be rendered with refer- 
ence to this fact : " Is Israel a servant, nig ? If a home-born, 


t>^— b«, why is he a spoil?" How should he he carried away 
and made a prey, if he belongs to the household, if he is the 
home-born of his God ? These home-born servants, and those 
whose contract of service lasted beyond the six years' term 
of ordinary legal indenture, were at the same time to be 
treated on the same footing with the hired servants and so- 
journers, with the same careful regard to all their rights and 

In connection with the case of the master giving his servant 
a wife, the instance of Sheshan is illustrative, 1 Chronicles, 
iii. 34, 35. Sheshan had no sons, and he gave one of his 
daughters as a wife to one of his household servants named 
Jarha, an Egyptian. This Egyptian servant, beyond all doubt, 
was received into Sheshan's service on the legal conditions 
laid down in Leviticus, xxv., on a contract voluntary and for a 
stipulated equivalent. There is not the slightest indication of 
his ever having been a slave. Egyptian strangers and so- 
journers among the Hebrews, as Avell as those from other 
nations, often sold themselves to service in this manner in the 
Holy Land. Yet with such reckless confidence and mistake, 
characterizing the assertions of too many commentators on 
this whole subject, it is asserted in Kitto's Cyclopaedia, article 
Sheshan, that Jarha was not only a slave, but that his marriage 
took place while the children of Israel were themselves in 
bondage in Egypt ! This is said, notwithstanding the fact that 
the recorded genealogy of Sheshan demonstrates that he and 
his family were cotemporary with Boaz, Obed, and Jesse, being 
in the seventh generation in direct descent from Hezron, the 
grandson of Judah. 


There is no other instance, save this in Exodus, xxi.4, (which 
is plainly mentioned as an exception to a general rule,) in 
which any claim of the master to the children of his servants 
is ever intimated. The home born, n-a — c^, and the sons of 


the house, n?s— 15s — though in subjection to him, as the father 
of the family, and lord of the household, were not his prop- 
erty, in any sense ; and because he had a servant-maid, her 
children were not on that account his servants, except by a 
separate specific contract. No child, whether Hebrew or 
heathen, in*the land of Judea, was born to involuntary servi- 
tude, because the father, or mother, or both were servants ; 
but every child of the house was born a member of the fam- 
ily, dependent on the master for education and subsistence. 
If married persons engaged themselves as servants, or sold 
themselves, according to Hebrew phraseology, then, when the 
six years' time of their service expired, they went forth free, 
and their children with them ; there was never any claim 
upon the children to retain them merely because they were 
h?a— "»aa, sons of the house ; but their parents had authority 
over them, and possession of them. The phraseology in the 
case before us, the tclfe and her children shall be her masters, 
*\s - -nV rri-iF rrnV»3 frisn, conveys no meaning of possession, but 
simply of remaining tenth the master, as long as the contract 
specified, as long as he had a right by law to her services. 
Inasmuch as she herself was not, and could not be, her mas- 
ter's, except only by voluntary contract, for a price paid to 
herself, and for a time specified, neither could the children be 
her masters. 

The only way in which he could give her to her husband 
to be his wife was, (l) either by paying to her father the dow- 
ry required, and so purchasing her for a wife for his servant, 
in which case he would have a claim upon his or her services 
or both, additional to the amount of that dowry ; or (2) she 
was his maid-servant already according to the ordinary or ex- 
traordinary legal contract, for the six years, Deuteronomy, 
xvi. 12, or for the time from the making of a new contract, 
till the jubilee, Deuteronomy, xvi. 17, and as such he gives 
her in marriage. In either case, she being bound to him for a 
longer time than her husband, her children would, of right, 


and by law, remain with her, under subjection in her master's 
household, and could not be taken away by the father, if he 
chose to quit. The children could not be taken from their 
parents, but after a certain age they were at liberty to choose 
their own masters, and to make their own terms of service. 
This resulted inevitably from the law limiting and defining 
the period of service in every case ; even when until the ju- 
bilee, still, most absolutely and certainly defined and limited 
by that. There was nothing left indefinite, and no room for 
the assumption of arbitrary power, so long as the provisions 
of the law w r ere complied with. And it was the breaking of 
those provisions, and the attempt on the part of the masters 
to force their servants into involuntary servitude, and so 
change the whole domestic system of the state from freedom 
to slavery, that, by the immediate wrath of God in conse- 
quence, swept the whole country into a foreign captivity, and 
consigned the people to the sword, the pestilence, and the 
famine, Jeremiah, xxxiv, 17. The horror with which any ap- 
proximation again towards any infraction of the great law of 
liberty, w r as regarded, after the return of the Jews from that 
retributive captivity, is manifested in Nehemiah, v. 5, and is 
instructive and illustrative. 


Let us now see what would be the actual operation of the 
exceptional contract in Exodus, xxi. 4-6, running on to the 
jubilee. That this is the meaning of the term for ever, in the 
terms of this contract, is not disputed, and is incontrovertible 
from Leviticus, xxv. 39, 40, the law of the jubilee overriding 
all others and repressing all personal contracts within itself. 
At the recurrence of the jubilee, all were free. Then, after 
the year of jubilee, when every family had returned to its 
original possessions, new engagements were necessarily en- 
tered into with servants, new contracts were made. It does 
not seem likely that, at the outset, any indenture of service 


for the next forty-nine years Avould be deemed desirable, 
either by masters or servants. Almost all contracts would be 
the ordinary legal ones of six years. But after the expiration 
of one or two septenfiiwns, there might be cases of contracts 
looking to the jubilee. On a probable computation, the in- 
stances would be rare of such engagements beginning before 
the middle, or near the middle of the period. In that case, 
if a master gave a wife to his servant, and the covenant was 
assumed by boring the ear, the children, as h**— »3S, home- 
born, the sons of the house, would be under subjection to the 
master, at the very farthest, not longer than our ordinary pe- 
riod of the minority of children. For example, take the con- 
tract of a maid-servant as occurring in the fourth septennium, 
or say in the twenty-fifth year, an agreement to serve in the 
family for twenty-three years, or until the jubilee, and ac- 
cording to the Hebrew idiom for contracts till that time, for 
ever. During the first septennium of this maiden's service, a 
Hebrew servant is engaged for six years, and soon forming an 
attachment, asks of his master the maid-servant for a wife. 
She is given to him by his master, and they have children ; 
and, at the expiration of his six years, he avails himself of his 
legal privilege, and enters into a new contract with his master 
till the jubilee. At that time the oldest of his children would 
be about twenty-one years of age, and the youngest might be 
five or ten ; they are all free by the operation of the law of 
jubilee. From twenty to twenty-five years would ordinarily 
be the utmost limit of any contract of service, whether for par- 
ents or children. 


The penalties against the master for cruel or oppressive 
treatment of his servants were the same, whether the servants 
were Hebrew or of heathen extraction. Whatever injury 
was committed against any servant, was to be avenged ; for 
loss of an eye or a tooth the servant should have his freedom, 


whatever might have heen his contract with his master, what- 
ever sum his master might have paid him beforehand, no mat- 
ter how many years of unfulfilled service might remain, Exo- 
dus, xxi. 26, 27. In connection with a similar section it is 
added, " Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the 
stranger as for one of your own country, for I am the Lord 
your God," Leviticus, xxiv. 22. The application of this princi- 
ple is beautifully and pointedly illustrated in Job, xxxi. 13- 
15 ; and the reason given is the same, namely, that the same 
God and Creator is the God both of master and servant : "If 
I did despise the cause of my man-servant or of my maid-serv- 
ant, when they contended with me, what shall I do when God 
riseth up ? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him ? 
Did not he that made me in the womb make him ? and did 
not one fashion us in the wonib ?" If a servant were killed 
by his master, the punishment was death ; if the servant died 
after some days, Exodus, xxi. 20, 21, in consequence of blows 
inflicted by the master, then, in mitigation of the punishment, 
the presumption was admitted in law that the killing was not 
intentional ; because, the master having paid the servant be- 
forehand for his services up to a certain time, " he was his 
money," and he could not be supposed to have intended to 
kill him, unless he did kill him outright; and then the penalty 
was death.* 

* In regard to the possession, ac- of servant to Laban, shows the nature 

quisition, and merchandise of property, of such service. It was the service 

and the increase of personal riches, by of freemen by contract, for wages, 

servants, such being their privileges "Mit welchem Kechte konnen diese 

as freemen, see Saalschutz on the Alle Lcibeigene genannt werden?" 

Laws of Moses, page 119. Saalschutz See note on page 714. "With what 

again refers to a mistaken conclusion propriety can any of these be called 

by Miekaelis, and remarks, in illustra- slaves?" Compare, on the meaning 

tion of the subject, that Jacob's pos- of the jubilee contract (forever), Stil- 

session of flocks and herds, with lingfleet, Origines Sacroe, Vol I., 

servants to take care of them for him, p. 'z63. 
while he himself stood in the relation 


Phraseology for Contracts with Servants. — Selling or Hiring Out, the Same 
Transaction. — Various Usages of the Verb to Sell. — Buying or Selling as 
Merchandise Forbidden on Pain of Death. — Demonstration of the Guilt of 
Slavery from this Prohibition. — Slavery, Slaveholding, and the Slave- 
Traffic, Alike the Subject of Divine Keprobation. 

We have illustrated the position of the buyer, and the mean- 
ing of the word used for the purchase of servants. Let us now 
examine the usage of the word which is applied to designate 
this transaction on the part of the seller. We take the first 
example from the law of contracts with servants, Exodus, xxi. 
7, 8, if a man sell his daughter to be a maid- servant. Here the 
subject of the sale, so called, is a Hebrew daughter. Her sale 
as a servant could not possibly be any thing more than an en- 
gagement for six years' service, at the end of which she was 
again free. The person who purchased her had no property 
in her, for she was as free as he was, except in the engage- 
ment of service for a limited time. But in the case before us 
she is sold for a wife, and is" purchased as such ; and the law 
defines and secures her rights with her master, who has be- 
trothed her to himself. He buys her for his wife and must 
treat her as such, and can not transfer her to another. If he 
put her away, she is free without money. She is described as 
being sold at one and the same time, to be a maid-servant and 
a wife. She is at once the tocn and the pj»n of the husband. 
Her master may be the husband himself, or he may marry 
her to his son ; but the section shows that her father has en- 
cased her in the service of the master on condition of her 
marriage either to one or the other ; and if this engagement 
is not fulfilled, she returns to her father free without money. 


1. The word here used for this transaction is the verb h5to, 
to sell. It is used of contracts with free persons, both as 
servants and wives. The first instance is in Genesis, xxxi. 15, 
where Rachel and Leah declare that their father had sold 
t/ietn, •s'sa, merely the concise description of his giving them, 
in marriage to Jacob, who had paid for them to Laban, seven 
years' personal service for each. The instances in Exodus, 
xxi. 7, 8, Genesis, xxxi. 15, and Deuteronomy, xxi. 14, are the 
only cases in which the word is employed in reference to a wife. 
These cases form a class by themselves. 

2. Then there is the class of passages in which the same 
word is applied to the ordinary legal contract of a Hebrew 
servant with his master or employer. Deuteronomy, xv. 12, 
if a Hebrew man or woman be sold unto thee, ^V iSte?— >a. 
Jeremiah, xxxiv. 14, hath been sold unto thee, I5te\ Leviti- 
cus, xxv. 39, 42, 47, 48, 50, different forms of the same word, 
n^to. To these cases we add the instance of a similar purchase, 
but forced beyond what the law admits, that is, an arbitrary 
contract, forbidden in regard to the Hebrew servant. Will ye 
sell your brethren ? or shall they be sold unto us ? si2te.Pi., 
&*fetes\ Both the sale and the purchase are forbidden, except 
on the conditions in Exodus, xxi. 2-11. 

3. The same word is used to designate the crime of man- 
selling^ the idea of contract for service being excluded. It is 
the sale of persons as of chattels, by way of merchandise. 
The first instance is in Genesis, xxxvii. 27, the selling of Jo- 
seph by his brethren, S9*3tt5, let us sell him y also, xxxvii. 28, 
ii-irc 1 :, they sold him. The same, Genesis, xlv. 4, 5, and Psalm 
cv. 17. This crime of selling a man is described by the same 
word, and forbidden under penalty of death, Exodus, xxi. 16, 
and Deuteronomy, xxiv. 7. 

4. A fourth class describes selling as the penalty for theft, 
Exodus, xxii. 3. But here the sale is not indefinite ; it is in 
case of the thief not being able to make restitution, in which 
case he must be sold, that is, put to compulsory service, for 


such a period as would make up the sum by the customary 
wages for labor. In this class of passages we include the cases 
of selling for debt. Isaiah, 1. 1 : To which of your creditors 
have I sold you ? Compare Matthew, xviii. 25. The selling 
for debt is simply an engagement of service for so long time 
as would be sufficient, by the ordinary legal wages, to pay 
the legal claim. It was not slavery, nor any selling as of 

5. A fifth class of passages, in which God is described as 
selling his people for their sins, or causing them to be sold to 
the heathen. Deuteronomy, xxviii. 68, sold unto their ene- 
mies for bondsmen, ye shall be sold, DP*:srn. Deuteronomy, 
xxxii. 30, except their roclc had sold them, b^sto b^st rs so-es. 
Judges, ii. 14; iii. 8; iv. 2 ; x. 7. 1 Samuel, xii. 9. Psalm 
xliv. 13. Joel, iii. 8. The sense in these cases is that of de- 
livering up into the power of another. Of this meaning is 
Judges, iv. 9, the Lord shall sell Sisera. To this class must 
be added, Isaiah, 1. 1, and Iii. 3, where the Jews are described 
as selling themselves for their transgressions ; that is, they 
did, by their sins, what God did, for their sins, delivered 
themselves over into the power of their enemies. 

6. A sixth class comprehends, 1 Kings, xxi. 20, 25, Ahab 
selling himself to work wickedness, and 2 Kings, xvii. IV, the 
people selling themselves to do evil ; that is, giving themselves 

* Josephus, Antiq., book xvi., original laws; for those laws ordain, 

chap, i., sec. ii. The great mistake that the thief shall restore fourfold, 

of imagining the selling for theft or and that if he have not so much, ho 

debt to have been a selling into slav- shall be sold indeed, but not to for- 

ery, or a species of slavery, would eigners, nor so that he be under per- 

havo been prevented, even by con- petual slavery, for he must have been 

suiting Josephus alone. This histo- released after six years." If so with 

rian refers to an instanco of such op- the criminal, how much more with 

pression committed by Herod, and the mere" debtor, who also might be 

remarks : " This slavery to foreigners taken for service to work out the 

was an offense against our religious debt, but must be released within the 

settlement [or constitution], such a septennium. 
punishment being avoided in. our 


up unrestrainedly, in consideration of the wages of sin for a 

7. In a seventh class of passages, the word is employed to 
describe the bondage of the Jews in their captivity, Nehemiah, 
v. 8, oysh epnsteBH. Add instances in Esther, vii. 4, where the 
word is used to signify delivering or betraying into the power 
of another, first, for destruction, second, for bondage. 

8. In another class still, the heathen are arraigned for the 
crime of selling Hebrew captives. Joel, iv. 3, 6, 7, sold a 
girl for wine, ^"i-fc; sold the children to the Grecians, dSpttt. 
Here the meaning obviously is that of traffic, as in merchan- 
dise, and the denunciation of God's wrath follows accord- 

The crime of selling one another is also described by the 
same word in Amos, ii. 6 : " They sell the righteous for silver 
(those that have committed no crime, they sell), and the needy 
for a pair of shoes. ^ Compare Amos, viii. 6, where the op- 
pression of buying the poor with silver is denounced along 
with the crime of perjury and false balances in traffic. The 
getting, or in Hebrew phraseology, the buying, of servants, as 
provided by law, was a just transaction, voluntary on both 
sides ; but in the cases before us, the thing forbidden is the 
buying and selling of persons against their own consent, who 
are compelled by their poverty to be thus passed as merchan- 
dise; and this is denounced as crime. So in Zechariah, xi. 5 : 
They that sell them say, Blessed be the Lord, for I am rich : 
adding to this monstrous crime the inicpiity and hypocrisy of 
invoking and asserting God's blessing upon it. 


From all these cases it is clear, that in law the word -tett, 
to sell, when applied to persons, signified a voluntary contract, 
such as ours of hiring workmen, or the contract between a 
master and his apprentices ; and that in any other cases, ex- 



ccjJt as making restitution for theft, or to work out a just 
debt, the buying and selling of persons was a criminal trans- 
action. The buying as well as the selling, in such a transac- 
tion, is denounced as criminal. It was making merchandise 
of men, a thing expressly forbidden in the divine law, on pen- 
alty of death. Accordingly, even in anticipation of the law, 
its principles were already acted on. There is not one particle 
of indication that Abraham, Isaac or Jacob ever sold one of 
their servants, nor any supposition of the power or right to do 
so. Nor ever, from the patriarchs down, is there any instance 
of any man or master selling a servant. The history of the 
world fails to disclose one single case of such merchandise. On 
the contrary, it proves that it was forbidden, and was regard- 
ed as sinful ; and that either the holding, or selling, or both, 
of a servant for gain, and against his will, or without his vol- 
untary contract, was an oppression threatened with the wrath 
of God. 

And here belongs the consideration of Deuteronomy, xxi. 
14, the case of the captive woman taken from the heathen for 
a wife, but afterwards rejected. Two things are forbidden in 
the treatment of her ; 1. Thou shall not sell her at all for 
money; tjs^a ns-ster}— nV ir^. Compare Exodus, xxi. 8. 

2. Thou shalt not malce merchandise of her. Thou shalt 
not bind her over to another, thou shalt not transfer her to 
the power of another. She shall not so be subject unto thee, 
that thou canst deal with her as merchandise or property. 
The word in this second prohibition is "teSM^rj, from nrs, to 
bend. Our English translation seems to make it exegetical 
of the preceding prohibition ; but it is not a synonyme with 
-lite, neither was intended as paraphrastic of that. It is the 
same word employed in Psalm cxxix. 7, of the mower binding 
sheaves to be carried away for use or traffic, sia i^yrr-KV, thou 
shalt not play the master or oppressor over her. 

A comparison of this with Exodus, xxi. 8, where the English 
translation speaks of selling a Hebrew icoman to a strange na~ 


tion, which is forbidden, will show that in that passage the 
translation does not convey the proper meaning ; for it was 
never permitted on any ground, or for any reason whatever, 
to bind a Hebrew woman to a heathen, or to deliver over to 
a foreign nation any Hebrew man or woman as servant or 
wife. In the case before us, Deuteronomy, xxi. 14, this is for- 
bidden in regard to the captive taken from the heathen in 
war; how much more in regard to any Hebrew! The ex- 
pression in Exodus, xxi. 8, a^Stei *>£«•-*& i^ss btfs, to a strange 
■nation he shall have no power to sell her, should be rendered, 
to sell her to a strange tribe, or to a strange family ; and the 
meaning evidently is, that she shall not be transferred from 
her master to any other family, but is wholly free. For the 
usage of ■>•;;:;, compare Leviticus, xxi. 1, 4, Ecclesiastes, vi. 2. It 
might mean, to a family of strangers, sojourning in the land, 
and joined to the congregation by circumcision. The hiring, 
selling, apprenticing, or disposing of her in any icay at all for 
money, is strictly forbidden. She is perfectly free. 


The result of the examination of the phrase to sell, in the 
word "teto, mahtr, and in the passages in which it is employed 
with reference to servants or captives, is perfectly conclusive 
against the existence of slavery, and triumphant in demonstra- 
tion of its guilt, as reprobated and forbidden of Jehovah. The 
buying being proved to have been a bargain free and volun- 
tary with the servant himself, and not the purchase, as of prop- 
erty, from any third party, and the selling being absolutely 
forbidden, in the sense of merchandise, as property, the mak- 
ing merchandise of a man being forbidden on pain of death ; — 
between these two lines of argument the demonstration of 
the guilt and crime of slavery is perfect. 

Now it is interesting to bring together the two prohibitions, 
in each of which precisely the same terms are made use of, 
but the .one relating to the treatment of captive women, 


strangers, the other to the treatment of Israelites, and in 
each case the treatment of man or woman as property forbid- 
den. In the first case, Thou shalt not sell her at all for 
money: thou shalt not make merchandise of her. In the 
second case, If a man he found stealing any of his hrethren of 
the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or sell- 
eth him, then that thief shall die ; and thou shalt put evil away 
from among you, Deuteronomy, xxiv. 7. The repetition of the 
prohibition by separate phrases, as if one were not explicit 
enough, though ever so plain, in reprobation of the crime of 
treating human beings as property, is exceedingly emphatic : 
Thou shalt not sell her at all / thou shalt not make merchan- 
dise of her. If thou make merchandise of him, or if thou sell 
him, thou shalt die. It would be difficult to reprobate more 
explicitly the infamous supposition that man can hold property 
in man, or to guard more carefully against the infamous crime 
of treating man as property ; converting human beings into 
merchandise, buying, holding, transferring, selling them as 

In forbidding this traffic in human beings on pain of death, 
having already sealed up the original crime of man-stealing, 
in which the traffic began, under the same condemnation and 
penalty, the Divine Being brands slavery, slaveholding, and 
the slave traffic, so ineontrovertibly, so palpably, as the sub- 
ject of divine hatred and wrath, and forbids it, so unquestion- 
ably, for all mankind, that the reader of these statutes stands 
amnzed at the hardihood and impiety of any nation or people, 
professing any regard to the authority of God, any belief in 
divine revelation, that can permit the crime within its borders, 
much more can sanction, legalize, protect it ; can raise it to 
the dignity of a domestic institution, perpetuate it to other 
generations by laws for its entailment, set apart a race for its 
enormities of oppression and of cruelty to be exercised upon, 
and make the breeding of that race, and the domestic trade 
in human stock, thus propagated, the object of State and Na- 


tional protection, as the most sacred and valuable of all the 
rights of property under heaven. 

It is a fit climax of such infinite rascality and impiety to 
select, as the qualifying direction of this crime, as the mark 
denoting the consecrated subjects of such ineffable atrocity, 
a seal of God's own providence, the tincture of the skin, the 
hue it has pleased him to impart in the organization of a por- 
tion of his creatures. Had the race of men-stealers in the 
United States, and of judicial tyrants and impostors, thought 
good to set forth and establish as the guidance of their detest- 
able villainy, the reason of their slave-law, and the security 
and ground of its execution, some infernal or atrocious discov- 
ered quality of character, some combination of moral and phys- 
ical depravity, so that it might seem as if the very will of God, 
in his providential retributive justice, were being carried out 
in the reduction of such a race to slavery, the crime had not 
reached such a height of impudent malignity, such a depth of 
meanness, such a consummation of intense, causeless, irreligious 
cruelty. But to take the divine providence, in the hue of the 
African race of human beings, as a guide and sanction for the 
violation of the divine law, in the commission against that race 
of the one crime which God has branded, because of its guilt, 
in co-equality with murder ; and to make that providential 
color of the skin, the reason of an announcement from the 
highest tribunal of national justice, that black men have no 

tainly, is to have reached at once an impious sublimity and de- 
formity of wickedness, such as no other nation under heaven 
ever yet attained.* 

* This opinion is the concentrated Also, the volume of Rev. "W. Goodell, 

essence of the current of slave legisla- equally demonstrative, with a moro 

tion, down to the present time. Com- particular and powerful moral applica- 

pare, for proof, the volume of Judge tion. The history of the world contains 

Stroud, Laws relating to Slavery, the nothing, as a system of outrage, wrong 

twelve propositions of the nature of and cruelty, so dreadful as the reality 

the system, with cases and decisions, in these volumes, viewed under the 

a demonstration not to be questioned, gospel. 


The Law Against Man-Stealing.— Explicit Definition of tiie O.ime.— Stealing a 
\l\s. Holding Him as a Slave, oe Selling Him, all the Same Crime.— Slave- 
holders, Slave-Buyers, Slave-Sellers, are Consequently all Man-Stealers.— 
What the Death Penalty Proves.— Property in Man Impossible.— Contrary 
to God's Law.— Attempted Perversion of the Law.— Paul's Quotation of it 
Against Men-Stealebs. 


Immediately after the laws determining the nature and 
time of contracts with servants, the legislator passes to the 
crime of murder and the death penalty against it. Then fol- 
lows the great fundamental statute, which demonstrates the 
criminality of slavery in the sight of God: He that stealetii 
a man and selletii him, or if he be found in his hand, he 

SHALL SURELY BE PUT TO DEATH, ExodllS, X.\i. 10. As the 

stealing of men is the foundation of slavery in most cases, and 
especially of modern slavery, this statute condemns it as sin- 
ful, intrinsically, absolutely. The stealing, the selling, the hold- 
ing, of a man in slavery, is death ; either form of_the crime 
shall be so punished. Whether the kidnapper keep or sell his 
victim, the crime is death. 

But the purchaser, with knowledge of the theft, is ecpially 
guilty, and would be treated as conspirator and principal in 
the same crime. On the principles of common law, as well as 
common justice, this is inevitable. Common law and justice, 
as well as common sense and piety, pronounce the slaves and 
their descendants in our own country a stolen race, their pro- 
genitors having been stolen at the outset, and there being no 
possibility, by transmission, of changing the original theft into 
a just possession, the original man stealing into a just claim of 


property in man. On the same principles of simple incontro- 
vertible justice, every receiver and buyer of the stolen race, 
or of any individual slave, with the claim of property in him, 
is the man-stealer, an accomplice in the crime ; for the maxim 
at common law holds, above all, in such a case, that the re- 
ceiver is as bad as the thief. He that buys and holds a man, 
knowing him to have been stolen, steals him ; and his having 
been bought and sold forty times, before the last trafficker in 
human flesh bought him, could make no difference. He re- 
mains, and must remain, a stolen man, no matter through 
how many hands he passes. All the hands that hold him as 
property are red with this crime of stealing him, this murder 
of his personal freedom. The same principle on which the 
buyer of a stolen horse, knowing him to have been stolen, is 
a horse-thief, makes the slave buyer and the slaveholder a 
man-stealer. The slaveholder in withholding the slave from 
his freedom, steals him. The continuing to withhold him from 
his freedom, and to hold him as property, is the renewed 
stealing of him. It is as truly the stealing of him, as the buy- 
ing of a stolen horse from a horse thief, while the owner was 
bound, and gagged, and helpless, would be the stealing of the 
horse, even though the thief was paid for him. 

In connection with the other provisions in the Hebrew sys- 
tem, this law against man-stealing rendered slavery absolutely 
impossible. The limitation of legal servitude to six years, and 
the law of universal freedom on the recurrence of the jubilee, 
would alone have prevented it ; but the law of death against 
man-stealing made the practice of slavery as criminal a system 
as an organized system of murder would have been. The 
stealing of a man is the stealing of him from himself; the 
buying of him is the receiving of stolen property ; the enslav- 
ing of his children is the stealing of them both from them- 
selves and from him, so that the crime is incomparably exas- 
perated in its descent ; by transmission, the crime is at once in- 
creased in extent, and undiminished as to the original iniquity. 



This law must effectually and for ever have prevented any- 
traffic in human beings. It denies the principle of property 
in man. The stealing of a man is the stealing of him from 
himself, and the converting of him into property; and that is 
to be punished with death. Xo matter if the thief merely 
kept him as a captive for his own use, and did not intend to 
sell him ; the being found in his hands was enough ; he should 
surely be put to death. He might say that he captured him 
in Africa, among savages, and brought him to Judea as one 
of God's missionaries, on benevolent grounds and with justi- 
ficatory circumstances. The pretense would avail nothing ; 
he should surely be put to death for the stealing of a man. 
The stealing alone should be punished by death ; and the 
holding would be sufficient evidence of the stealing; the hold- 
ing of him as a slave would be itself the stealing; the being 
found in his hands, under constraint, against his own will, 
would be enough. 

Then comes the selling, equally to be punished by death, 
because the selling is not only the converting of him into prop- 
erty, but, it is the transfer of that property, under such cir- 
cumstances as to make the stolen man a more hopeless victim 
still of such cruelty, It is the transfer of that property under 
the pretense of a just claim. It is putting the counterfeit bill 
in circulation, with a voucher ; it is giving the forgery a cur- 
rency by endorsement. The selling is the assumption of prop- 
erty in the stolen person, and the selling is punishable by 
death. The stealing alone, if the thief did not sell, might not 
be the assertion of property, or of the^»7«c^/e of property in 
man ; but the selling of him would be ; and either stealing 
and holding, or stealing and selling, or stealing, holding, or 
selling, the crime is put on a level with murder. 




There is no escaping - from this logic. It holds the slave- 
holder with a grip more inexorable than his own remorseless 
and infernal claim of property in man. He commits the orig- 
inal iniquity of man-stealing comfortably and innocently, as he 
thinks, without either the guilt, or the trouble, or the danger 
of the original piracy; but God will hold him to an inexorable 
account under his own explicit law, and on the principles of 
common justice, as to fraud and cruelty between man and man. 
God will not hold him guiltless, though man may ; God will 
never hold his own truth in unrighteousness, though the 
church of God on earth may do it, and may sacrifice both 
truth and righteousness in the compromise with crime ; God's 
judgment remains, and is unalterable, and by that, and not 
by human compromises, or adjustment of expediencies, must 
men be tried, when they violate God's law, and proclaim 
such violations innocent, by framing a human law for its pro- 

The stealing of human beings as property, and the convert- 
ing of them into property, is worse, by the divine law, than 
the stealing of property ; as much worse as murder is than 
stealing. Such is the distinction which God makes between 
this and a common theft, between the stealing of a man and 
the stealing of property. The theft of property was punished 
by fine ; but the stealing of a man, by death : " If a man shall 
steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it or sell it, he shall restore five 
oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep," Exodus, xxii. 1. 
" If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it 
be ox, or ass, or sheep, he shall restore double," Exodus, xxii. 4. 
Compare Exodus, xxii. 9. If slavery had had any existence 
among the Hebrews, any toleration, if man had been consid- 
ered as property, then the penalty for such theft could not 
have been death, but the restoration of five slaves for a slave, 



or the payment of five times as much as the stolen man would 
bring in the market. And the near and striking contrast be- 
tween these crimes and the respective penalties attached to 
them, must have made men feel that the assertion of property 
in man was itself a crime. 

Accordingly, there is no indication of any traffic in human 
beings except where it is indicated as a crime, with the wrath 
of God pointed against it. There was such traffic among other 
nations, but no approach to it in Judea. The trade in human 
beings is set down by the prophet Ezekiel as among the com- 
mercial transactions in the market place of Tyre ; but no He- 
brew had any thing to do with it, Ezekiel, xxvii. 13. It is set 
down by Joel as a damning trade of Tyre and Zidon, of the 
heathen, and the Grecians, Joel, iii. 2-8, and every approxima- 
tion to it, on the part of Israel, is marked for divine vengeance. 
But no such traffic was allowed, or existed, under the law of 
God ; no such thing as slavery was either recognized or tol- 
erated. There is no instance of the purchase even of servants 
from a third person, as if they were articles of possession that 
could be passed from hand to hand, from master to master, 
without their own agreement. There is no instance of the safe 
of any servant to a third person. There is no indication that 
masters ever had any power to sell their servants to others, or 
to put them away from their own families, except in perfect 
freedom. Our English translators, and the lexicographers, 
have indeed, in most cases, assumed slavery and the slave 
trade as existing in Judea ; but the Mosaic laws and the 
Jewish history demonstrate the contrary. A single assump- 
tion, by Gesenius, that the word for souls in Genesis, xii. 5, 
C2i, souls that Abraham and Lot had gotten hi Haran, means 
slaves, shall be followed, without examination, by other lexi- 
cographers, and shall set the tide of opinion to run on without 



But the statute under consideration shines like a sun upon 
such an investigation, and throws its light backwards as wef 
as forwards in history and law, as a light of supreme defining 
and controlling principle. Human beings can not be treated 
as property. There is no restriction : the universality of the 
law is unquestionable ; the subject of it being a man, not a 
Hebrew man exclusive of a stranger, but a man, whosoever 
he might be. The universality of this law is as evident as that 
law in verse 12 : lie that smiteth a man so that he die, shall 
surely be put to death. There is no more ground for restrict- 
ing the application of the statute against stealing a man to the 
Hebrew stolen, than that against killing a man. So with the 
statute against killing a servant ; there is no restriction. A 
comparison of this with Leviticus, xxiv. 17, 21, 22, makes it 
still clearer. In this place the statute is also concerning the 
death-penalty, and the form is as follows : He that killeth 
any man shall surely be put to death ; and it is added, Ye 
shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger as for 
one of your own country ; for I am the Lord your God. So 
with the laws concerning the treatment of one's neighbor ; if 
any man ask, But who is my neighbor? willing to restrict 
their application to a countryman, the commentary of our 
Lord, in Luke, x. 30, settles the matter. But if so in a smaller 
injury committed, or benefit required, much more in the 
greater. Along with this statute is placed the law, Thou 
shalt not vex a stranger, nor oppress him, Exodus, xxii. 21, 
and again xxiii. 9. But finally the matter is settled by Paul, 
in 1 Timothy, i. 10 : " The law is made for man-slayers, men- 
stealers," and others named, without restriction as to lineage 
or land. The reference is unquestionable ; the application 
equally so. 

He that stecdeth a man. If it had been (as some modern 
supporters of the system of slavery affirm) a statute for the 


support, sanction, and better protection of slavery and slave 
property, a statute against stealing slaves or servants, the dis- 
tinguishing word would have been used (had there been a word 
in the Hebrew tongue signifying slave) ; and for want of such 
a word, the nearest approximation to it would have been 
taken. The statute must have read, He that stealeth a serv- 
ant,is», not he that stealeth bjik, a man. So gross a blunder 
could never have been committed by the lawgiver as the in- 
troduction of the genus instead of the species, in a case involv- 
ing the penalty of death ; so gross a blunder as that by which 
the slaveholder instead of the slave-stealer might have been 
obnoxious to the penalty. If it had been a law against the 
stealing of another man's slaves, then the slaveholder might 
have stolen a man and made him a slave, with perfect impu- 
nity ; and only the thief who should dare to steal from him 
the slave so made would be subject to the penalty. The law 
would have been not against the stealing of a man, as ma?i, 
and making him property, but against the stealing of him as 
property, after he is so made. The assumption of those who 
would maintain that Moses promulgated this law for the pro- 
tection of slavery, is just this ; that man, as man, is not 
sacred against kidnapping ; but man as kidnapped and made 
property, man as property, is so sacred and inviolable a pos- 
session, that the theft of him as a slave must be punished with 


Did the history of crime, or of impudent wickedness in jus- 
tifying it, ever record an endeavor so brazen to falsify fact, to 
distort the laws of the Almighty, to pervert their meaning, to 
change good into evil, and put darkness for light ? The trick 
is too barefaced and palpable even to be dignified with the 
name of sophistry ; it is a downright and deliberate falsifica 
tion of God's word, in order to shield from Ills reprobation 
that which, along with murder, and equally as that, constitutes 


the greatest of human villainies. These deliberate falsifiers of 
God's truth endeavor to shield from condemnation the crime 
of stealing a freeman, and making him a slave, because the con- 
demnation of that crime, as a crime worthy of death, includes 
inevitably, and necessitates, the equal condemnation of slavery, 
as the result and essence of that crime. If it be a crime to 
steal a man, it is an equal crime to hold him when stolen ; for 
the holding of him is the renewal of the stealing every day. 
If he is passed over to a second thief for a consideration, then 
that thief, holding the stolen man, does himself steal him, does 
himself renew the theft of a man. The fact that he paid for 
him does not make it any less the stealing of him. 

These falsifiers of God's word endeavor to shield this crime 
of stealing a man from condemnation, and to throw the whole 
reprobation against the imaginary crime of stealing a slave. 
There is no such crime ; for the stealing of a slave would be 
criminal, merely because it is the stealing of a man from him- 
self, and not a slave from his master ; merely because God has 
denounced the stealing of a man as being a crime as great as 
that of murder. Therefore, the stealing of a slave would be 
criminal, because it is the stealing of a man, but not because 
the slave can be any man's property, not because he belongs, 
or can belong, to his master, which God forbids, but to him- 
self only ; and his master, in claiming and holding him as 
property, steals him ; in making a slave of him, steals him. 

But these apologists for slavery maintain that it is a greater 
crime to steal a stolen man than it is to steal a freeman. They 
hold that it is no crime at all to steal that which is not prop- 
erty, namely, a freeman ; but the moment the man is stolen, 
and converted into property, then he becomes sacred, as an- 
other's possession, and the stealing of him becomes robbery, 
because it is the stealing of a slave ! The stealing of a 
freeman from himself and from God is to be protected, be- 
cause it is a mode of creating the most valuable of all prop- 
erty ; but the stealing of the stolen man, when thus once ere- 


ated a slave, once transformed into property by the original 
stealing of a freeman, is the worst kind of theft, because it is 
the stealing of a stolen man from his owner, after he has been 
laboriously, and at great cost of cruelty and wickedness, trans- 
figured into a slave ! A slave, by God's law, according to 
these " doctrines of devils," is sacred from theft, but a free- 
man is not ! A max may be stolen with impunity, but the 
stealing of a slave is to be punished with death ! A slave is to 
be protected as property, but not as a max. A man, as a man, 
and a freeman, can not be shielded from being stolen, and there 
is no law against the man-stealer ; but as a slave, God inter- 
poses and makes it death to steal him, not, however, on his 
own account, or for his own protection as a max, but for the 
protection of his master's sacred right of property in him as a 
stolen man ! 

With what sublimated essence of cruelty and compound 
wickedness these moral chemists charge the word of God ! 
Passing it through the manipulations of such complicated 
power of lying, the retorts and crucibles of their own diabol- 
ism, it comes forth glaring like a demon, filled, in this thing, 
with their own murder, debate, deceit, malignity. The glory 
of the incorruptible God is changed into the image of a devil, 
when that unrighteousness of men against which the wrath of 
God is revealed from heaven, is, by their dreadful ingenuity, 
enthroned as the object of Heaven's sanction and protection ; 
it is the all-deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that 
perish, when the truth is thus held by them in unrighteous- 
ness, and the unrighteousness is presented as the truth. 


An attempt has been made to deny the universality of the 
first grand enactment against stealing a max, by an appeal to 
the other and second statute in Deuteronomy, xxiv. 7, where 
the application is directly to the Hebrew man. " If a man be 
found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, 


and niaketh merchandise of him, or selleth him, then that 
thief shall die, and thou shalt put evil from among you." As 
if Jehovah could have taught that it was evil to steal a Hebrew, 
but not evil to steal a man ! As if, in the sight of God, the 
stealing of a Hebrew was a crime worthy of death, while the 
stealing of a man might be permitted with impunity ! This 
attempted evasion is almost as detestable as the other, that 
the only thing criminal is the stealing of a slave from his mas- 
ter, while the stealing of a man from himself, being only the 
making of a slave, is not only no sin and no evil, but a 
benefit to society, and an act of missionary intelligence and 

This statute, which was passed concerning the Hebrew forty 
years after the other concerning the man, and without any 
connection with or reference to the first, as we have already 
noted, had a special object, which confirms and strengthens 
the principle. It can not possibly be regarded as a statute of 
limitation or interpretation merely, much less of abrogation, 
as if the specific abrogated the general. Rather, if any such 
reference were supposed, might it be contended that it having 
been found in the course of forty years that the first and gen- 
eral law might have been claimed as applying only to the 
stranger or the heathen, and not to the stealing of a Hebrew, 
whose servitude, even if stolen, could not last more than six 
years (so carefully by law was this adjusted), it was found 
necessary, for greater security and definiteness, to add the 
second enactment, specifying also the Hebrew. But here 
again, any limitation of the first statute by the second is for- 
bidden in the same chapter, by the application of verse 14 : 
"Thou shalt not oppress a hired servant that is poor and 
needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that 
are in thy land within thy gate." Nov/ if a hired servant that 
was not a Hebrew could not be oppressed, any more than a 
native, much more could not such a one be stolen with im- 
punity, or the thief escape the penalty. He would not be 



permitted to plead that, because there was a law against steal- 
ing a Hebrew, therefore the law against stealing a man was 
null and void. 

Whether of thy brethren or of strangers, the oppression was 
alike sinful, alike forbidden. But the greatest of all oppres- 
sion was that of stealing a man and making a slave of him; 
and if this was forbidden on pain of death in regard to a He- 
brew, it was equally criminal and forbidden in regard to the 
stranger ; if a crime worthy of death when committed against 
a servant, then not less a crime when perpetrated against a 
freeman. The stealing of an African was as sinful as the steal- 
ing of a Jew. The stealing of an Egyptian would have come 
under this penalty of death for punishment as certainly as the 
stealing of a son of Abraham. Ye shall have one manner of 
law, as well for the stranger as for your own countryman — a 
most humane, merciful, and wise provision of a large and im- 
partial benevolence and justice, which, if our own enlightened 
country and government had followed, we should not now 
have been laden with the iniquity of an accursed jurisprudence, 
of the most infamous injustice and cruelty, for keeping four 
millions of human beings in perpetual slavery. 

If this law had been against stealing Jews, instead of men, 
then the apostle, in transferring it, must have said the law was 
made for Jew-stealers, not men-stealers, for 'lovdaLovnodia-aTc;, 
not dvdpa-odioraig. And so, if the law had been against 
stealing slaves, not men, for the protection and sanction of 
slave-property, not to declare God's protection of men as hu- 
man beings, against theft, or for the security of slave-owners, 
and not for the sacredness of men as created in God's image ; 
then the apostle, in translating that law into the wider dispen- 
sation, and defining its application, must have said, the law 
was made for slave-stealers, dovkoTrodioraTg, or 6ovXo~ariaiq, 
not men-stealers. The context in Exodus, and context in 
Timothy, nail the passages as beyond all disputation referring 
to the same law. In Exodus it lies alongside with statutes 


against man-slayers, cursers, and murderers of father and 
mother ; in 1 Timothy the conjunction is the same : " Know- 
ing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but 
for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sin- 
ners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and 
murderers of mothers, for man-slayers, for whoremongers, for 
them that defile themselves with mankind, for men-stealers, 
for liars, for perjured persons; and if there be any other thing 
that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious 
gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust." 
This reference is as clear as the noon. No man can for one 
moment doubt the precise law in Exodus, which is referred to 
by Paul, in writing to Timothy.* Paul could not, therefore, in 
referring to it, have wholly distorted either its meaning or its 
application. He could not have made so great a mistake as 
that of leveling against the very foundations of slavery and the 
slave-trade, a law published originally, and intended of God 
for the protection of slave property. He could not have inter- 
preted, in behalf of the rights of man against slaveholders, 
a law intended of God to secure the rights of slaveholders 

* Josephcs, Antiq., book iv., chap. Joscpbus must have used the word 
viii., sec. 27. slave instead of A man, had the inter- 
There is no question as to the in- pretation of the law been imagined as 
terpretation given to this law by the against slave-stealing instead of man- 
Jews of Paul's time. Indeed, a man stealing. The late Judge Jay, an 
must be almost an idiot to believe, or eminent jurist, philanthropist, and 
quite a villain to maintain, that the Christian, speaks, in his admirable 
lav,- against stealing a man recognizes Essay on the Mosaic Laws op 
the lawfulness and justice of slavery, Servitude, with just severity and 
and forbids merely the stealing of a contempt of the "intense baseness to 
slave. But to this extreme will the which northern apologists for slavery 
defense of this iniquity carry even a will sometimes descend, as strikingly 
professed Christian, though against illustrated in a pro-slavery article of 
common sense as well as common the American Quarterly Review, for 
piety. Josephus quotes the law: "Let June, 1833," in which the impious 
death be the punishment for stealing evasion and falsification above noted 
a man; but he that hath purloined are resorted to. 
gold or silver, let him pay double." 


against men. To this extent of infamy and blasphemy against 
God the clerical Christian and theological defenders of slavery, 
as under God's sanction, are compelled to drive their argu- 
ment. The fountains of the great deep of wickedness are 
broken up in the defense of this national crime, and the tops 
of the highest mountains are so covered by the deluge, that 
we have had Christian ministers declaring, in the zeal of their 
celestial enthusiasm in the slave theology, that if by a single 
prayer they could emancipate all the slaves in the country, 
they would not offer it. 


The application of this statute to the condemnation of 
American slavery and slaveholding, as man-stealing, is inevit- 
able. It brings not only the whole system, though sanctioned 
by human law, under the curse and wrath of God, but those 
who, personally and individually, practice it with God's pre- 
tended sanction. The taking, the holding, or the selling of hu- 
man beings as property, constitutes the very crime which God 
himself has set apart, along with the crime of murder, for the 
punishment of death. The act of slaveholdiug is this very 
crime ; the act of slave-selling is this very crime. It is not 
the system merely or generally, but the very act, that God's 
wrath is leveled against ; it is not the system of slavery, but 
the individual act and practice of slaveholding and selling, 
that God has sealed with such terrible reprobation unto death. 
It is the personal, individual act and practice of the crime, and 
the repetition of it, that makes it a custom; and it is the 
framing of laws protecting and sustaining it that organizes it 
into what is called an organic sin, an institution, and a system. 
The wickedness of the system lies in the continued perpetration 
of the act, the crime, by the individual slaveholder. The act 
of the crime came before its enactment, in stealing, in holding, 
in selling men as slaves. The act ^of slaveholding is the act of 
sin. Without the individual slaveholding there could be no 


system of slavery ; the Blaveholding goes before the system, 
prepares for it, and makes it up. 

The slaveholding constitutes that oppression which is the 
subject of God's wrath. The slave-stealing, holding, and sell- 
ing came before any laws, and against all law, both of God and 
man ; afterwards came the passage of laws to sanctify, pro- 
tect, and establish the crime. Thus legalized and system- 
atized, men think its guilt is canceled, aud that God no longer 
looks upon the crime through the medium of his own law 
and righteousness, but through the medium of human law, 
which thus becomes a vicarious redeemer, to bear the guilt of 
the violation of his own law. God's statute, "Thou shalt not 
follow a multitude to do evil," is annuled, and the combina- 
tion of the multitude, with the consolidation of their crime 
into an institution, by means of a body of human enactments 
defending it, divests it of the quality of guilt, and puts it 
beyond God's reach, secure from his reprobation! 


But no slaveholder can thus escape the reprobation of the 
Almighty. The fact that the crime is erected into a system, 
and legalized, so far from removing or diminishing the guilt 
of the act of slaveholding, is a terrible increase of the wicked- 
ness, over and above that of the individual crime. The crime 
of slaveholding still stands by itself under God's wrath ; the 
crime of enacting laws in justification and defense of it, the 
crime of enthroning it in the place of justice, is also another 
and a gigantic guilt by itself, for which God will hold the na- 
tion to account, as he holds the individual slaveholder for the 
guilt of man-stealing. Human law can not possibly make that 
an article of just property, which God has declared to be a 
robbery punishable with death. The man who perpetrates 
that robbery, in holding a fellow-creature as property, as a 
slave, and then justifies it by human law, commits two crimes 
instead of one ; the crime of man-stealing first, unaltered by 


human enactments in its favor ; the crime of preferring man's 
law above God's, second, which is deliberate defiance of the 
Almighty, and adds to the sin of disobedience that of teach- 
ing it as righteousness ; that of teaching that man's law is 
obligatory above God's, and that man's law is capable of trans- 
figuring into innocence and duty, what God's law has most 
explicitly forbidden, as the highest crime. 

But there is a still greater exasperation of this wickedness, 
that of justifying it in the name of Christianity, that of seal- 
ing with the pretended sanction of the cross, under the New 
Testament, and as a missionary providence and virtue, that 
very crime which God has branded under the Old Testament 
by his own law as the highest guilt. The crime of slavehold- 
ing received into the church, baj^tized in the name of Christ, 
sanctioned as not inconsistent with the Christian profession, 
is such a confusion and chaos of impiety with holy things, that 
the incongruous monstrosities against which the Levitical 
enactments were leveled, are but a type of the blasphemy. 
A church is corrupted, its conscience defiled, and its piety 
must soon become putrid, that can admit and endure the dis- 
cord of such abominable profanations, such abominations of 
desolations set in the holy place. Men might as well talk of 
Christian murder as Christian slaveholding, and of receiving 
the Christian murderer into sacramental and celestial fellow- 
ship, as well as the Christian slaveholder. 

This conclusion is inevitable the moment the definition of 
slaveholding in the Word of God, and in the bare reality of 
the crime, is admitted, and the letter and spirit of the Chris- 
tian law are applied to it. The language of reprobation, such 
as has been employed by Adam Clarke, John Wesley, Dymond, 
and others, seems strong and terrible, but who can deny its 
justice, admitting the sin to be such a crime as it is described 
to be in the book of divine revelation ? The survey of the 
system in the slave laws, (see Stroud and Goodell, with de- 
cisions,) in the light of the Word of God, is all that is needed. 


Statute Forbidding the Delivery of Fugitives.— Universality and Meaning of 
this Statute.— The Language Considered.— The History as to Servants. — 
Heathen as Well as Hebrew Comprehended.— Beneficence of the Statute. 
— A Security of Universal Freedom.— Force of the Demonstration Against 
the Possibility of Property in Man. 


The Mosaic legislation, the more it is examined, is seen to 
be a system of supernatural, divine wisdom. Amidst a con- 
geries of particulars, sometimes seemingly disconnected, great 
underlying and controlling principles break out, The prin- 
ciple revealed in the statute against man-stealing, is the same 
developed in the next statute which we are to consider, in the 
order of the logical and historical argument from the Old 
Testament Scriptures against slavery. The principle is that 
of the sacredness of the human personality, which can not 
be made an article of traffic, can not be bought and sold, with- 
out a degree of criminality in the action like the criminality 
of murder. As the sacredness of human life is guarded by 
the penalty of death for the crime of maliciously hilling a 
man, so the sacredness of human liberty, the property of a 
man's personality, as residing solely in himself, is guarded by 
the same penalty against the crime of stealing a man. The 
theft is that of himself from himself, and from God his Maker. 
As murder is the destruction of the life, so man-stealing and 
selling is the destruction of the personality, the degradation 
of a man into a thing, a chattel, an article of property, trans- 
ferred, bartered for a price, as if there were no immortal soul 
nor personal will in existence. 

The statute in Deuteronomy, xxiii. 15, 10, is properly to be 


examined next after that in Exodus, xxi. 16, and Deuteron- 
omy, xxiv. 7. The whole form of the statute is as follows : 
"Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is 
escaped from his master unto thee. He shall dwell with thee, 
even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of 
thy gates, where it liketh him best : thou shalt not oppress 
him." Of the interpretation of this statute, there can not be 
the least doubt ; as to its application, only can there remain, 
in any mind, some little question. 


The first thing to be considered is the language : " Thou 
shalt not deliver up the servant to his master, "which is es- 
caped unto thee from his master." The servant to his master, 
v:-in— Vn nas. It is not, the slave to his oioner, or the heathen 
slave to his owner, which would have been the proper form 
of expression, if either slaves at any rate were under consid- 
eration, or heathen slaves alone. The word for servant is the 
ordinary 121;, and the word for his master is i^ns, which is 
to be compared and contrasted with the word for owner, Vvn, 
the latter word being used when a beast or an article of 
property instead of a human being is spoken of. The contrast 
may be fairly and fully seen, and the usage demonstrated, by 
comparing Exodus, xxi. 4, 5, G, 8, with Exodus, xxi. 28, 29, 
32, 34, and 30, and likewise Exodus, xxii. 11, 12, 14, 15. 
Here, in the first case, where the subject is a human being, 
(the servant), the master, y.iK, is spoken of, but never the 
oicner. The relations and responsibilities are brought to view 
between master and servant, but never between owner and 
slave. But in the other eases, where the subject is property, 
as an ox, ass, sheep, or article of raiment or furniture, the 
oicner, V?5, is spoken of, not the master. The distinction is 
one of purpose and care, and not accidental ; and in no case 
is any such relation between human beings brought to view 


as of the one being owner of the other, with sanction of such 
relation. The history of such relationship is the history of 
crime, and the selling of human beings is always a criminal 
transaction. The whole transaction of the selling of Joseph 
is described as the crime of stealing ; and no person in Judea 
could ever have sold any human being, no matter by what 
means in his power, without the conviction of doing what was 
forbidden of God. Man-selling was no more permitted than 
man-stealing. Accordingly, there are no instances of its be- 
ing practiced. 

Now if there had been in Jndea, from Abraham downwards, 
the system of what we call slavery, the system of chattelism, 
the purchase, ownership, and sale of human beings as articles 
of property, there must have been some traces of such pur- 
chase, ownership, and sale, in the history of the people. Their 
domestic life is so fully set before us, that if this system were 
a fixture of it, the evidence could not fail to have leaked out ; 
nay, the proof would have been glaring. If this fixture, with 
all its concomitant transactions and habits, had existed, had 
been maintained, as a national institute, against the divine 
law, we should as certainly have found it in the history and 
the books of the prophets as idolatry itself; we do find it in- 
stantly recorded, in the only case in which it was attempted ; 
and the case in which the crime was completed occasioned 
the instant vengeance of God, in the destruction of the Jew- 
ish State. But if it had existed by appointment of the divine 
law, under the sanction and favor of God, then much more 
should we have found some traces of it not only in the law 
itself, but in the manners and customs of the people, and in 
their historical and commercial records. 


But in the whole history, from that of Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob, down through the whole line of their descendants, not 


one instance is to be found of the sale of a man, a servant, or 
a slave. The only approximations to such a thing are treated 
and denounced as criminal ; as, for example, in Amos, ii. G, 
thus saith the Lord, " For three transgressions of Israel and 
for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof, be- 
cause they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair 
of shoes." When they obtained servants, or purchased them, 
as the phrase was, they purchased their time and labor from 
themselves ; but if they attempted to sell them, it could not 
be done without stealing them ; it was making articles of prop- 
erty out of them ; it was asserting and violently assuming 
ownership in them ; it was man-stealing. But if slavery had 
been a legal institution appointed of God, a righteous jjolicy 
and habit of the domestic life, we should have found some- 
where some traces of the transactions by which always it is 
attended and maintained. We should have found mention 
not only of obtaining servants by contracts made icith them, 
but of buying them as slaves from others, and of ownership in 
them, and of the sale of them ; and if they were considered in 
law as chattels, as articles of property, we should have found 
legal provisions for reclaiming and securing them when lost, 
fugitive, or stolen ; just as Ave do in the cases of oxen, asses, 
sheep, or property of any kind, lost, strayed, or stolen. It 
would not be possible, for example, to write the history of 
laws and customs in the United States for a single century 
without such traces of slavery and of slave-laws coming out. 


When, therefore, we search for such traces in the Mosaic 
legislation, what do we stumble upon ? The first thing in 
regard to fugitives is this law before us, a law made for their 
protection against their masters, and not in behalf of the mas- 
ters, or to recover their lost property. The judgment gath- 
ered from this law in regard to slavery is in condemnation of 


the whole system, and remains in full, to whatever class of 
inhabitants the passage be applied. The question is, wheth- 
er its operation was intended to comprehend Hebrew serv- 
ants, or heathen servants only ; whether it was a law for 
Judea at home, or for the nations abroad, or equally for 

1. There is no restriction or limitation expressed; it would 
have to be supposed, and a construction forced upon the pas- 
sage, which the terms do not indicate, and will hardly permit. 
It would be unfortunate to have to treat any passage in this 
manner, to make out a case, unless the context required it, or 
the history and some more comprehensive laws enforced it. 
Compare, for illustration, the command in Isaiah, lviii. 6, 9, 
where it is enjoined: "To loose the bands of Avickedness, to 
undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that 
ye break every yoke." And again: "If thou take away from 
the midst of thee the yoke." We might assert concerning 
these passages that they referred only to the heathen, Avhereas 
it is notorious that they applied to abuses and oppressions 
committed not among the heathen, but in Judea itself, by the 
Hebrews themselves, and not against strangers only, but 
against their own countrymen, as in Amos, ii. 6, and viii. 6, 
Jeremiah, xxii. 13-17, and Habakkuk, i. 14-16, and other 
places. But when it is said, that ye break every yoke, it is not 
meant that the lawful and appointed contracts with Hebrew 
servants or others were to be broken up, for those were not 
yokes, nor regarded as such ; and it only needed the applica- 
tion of common sense to know perfectly the application of the 
passage to unjust and illegal oppressions. 

But, again, if a stranger or a heathen was thus oppressed 
and subjected to the yoke, it applied to him, as well as to the 
Hebrew; and the distinction was well known between op- 
pressive and involuntary servitude, which was forbidden of 
God, and the voluntary service for paid wages or purchase 
money, as appointed by the law. The command, to take away 



the yoke from the midst of thee, applies to every form of 
bondage imposed upon any persons whatsoever in the land, 
contrary to the divine law, and without agreement on the 
part of the servant. The fugitive from such oppression was 
to be relieved and protected, and not delivered back to bond- 
age. The Hebrew is emphatic, ntna 'q-'ritt "pep— cn, if thou 
remove from the midst of thee the yoke; the yoke in thine 
own country, not in a heathen country. And so, in the stat- 
ute before us, the oppression, the escape, and the protection 
are neither, nor all, exclusive of Hebrews. 

2. But, second, it is contended by some that this is merely 
a law to prevent heathen slaves that were escaping into the 
land of Judea from being sent back to their heathen masters. 
It certainly comprehends this class of persons, and this would 
be an inevitable result of its operation, at any rate, whether 
Hebrew servants were excluded or not. But no intimation can 
be found, either in the text, the context, or the whole history, 
of its application being restricted to the heathen. The word 
in this statute used for servant is "isy. It is not a statute con- 
cerning the hired servant, the "P5b, nor the six years' hired 
servant, who could not be compelled to remain at service any 
longer than that period, but was free as soon as his engage- 
ment was over. It certainly could not apply to him, for he 
received his pay from his master beforehand, and the law 
would have been an incentive to dishonesty and villainy, if he 
could have received his six years' wages, on entering into cov- 
enant of service, and the next week could have decamped from 
his master with the money in his pocket, secure against being 
retaken. Such a person was not the "ray contemplated in this 
law, nor could there have been any danger of its being so per- 
verted. At the same time, the proofs are numerous that in 
the land of Judea, among the Hebrews themselves, there were, 
and would be, persons unjustly held as servants beyond their 
time of service, as contracted for, persons oppressed in such 
bondage, and for whose protection such a statute as the fugi- 


tive law before us, might be more necessary than for persons 
fleeing from idolatrous masters in heathen lands. 

3. In the third place, then, we must remember that there 
were servants in Judea, both of the Hebrews and the heathen, 
whose term of service was not limited to six years, but ex- 
tended, with somewhat more undefined dominion of the mas- 
ter, to the jubilee. There were servants of all work, inden- 
tured servants, bound, by their own contract, for the whole 
number of years intervening between the time of the contract 
and the jubilee. These were mostly of heathen families, though 
also of Hebrew, and were much more in the power of their 
masters for ill treatment and oppression, if they were cruelly 
disposed. Now it is most likely that the statute in question 
was interposed for the protection of just this class of servants 
from the cruelty of their masters; servants, the nature and the 
term of whose service was, to such a degree, undefined and 
unlimited. There certainly was such a kind of service, and 
such a class of servants, to which and to whom the expression 
n:??, and service of an ins peculiarly applied. See, for exam- 
ple, Leviticus, xxv. 39, 40 : The Hebrew servant, contracting 
till the jubilee, shall not be compelled to serve with the serv- 
ice of an "OS, the servant of all work, but as a hired servant 
and a sojourner. But the term of service was unlimited, ex- 
cept by the jubilee; and so, in some respects, was the power 
of the master. 

The statute before us seems to have been passed for the 
protection of such servants from the possible cruelty of their 
masters. Although it was not deemed best entirely to abol- 
ish that kind and tenure of servitude, but to lay it mainly up- 
on the idolatrous nations who were to be conquered by the 
Jews ; yet God imposed such protective safeguards in respect 
to it as would keep it from being a cruel and unjust treatment, 
even of them; such safeguards that the masters should find 
kindness toward their servants not only commanded by the 
letter and spirit of the law, but the only safe and profitable 


policy. Therefore it was enacted that, if any servant chose to 
flee from a tyrannical and cruel master, and could succeed in 
getting away, the master should not be able by law to recover 
him, should not be able to force him back ; or, at all events, 
that none should bo obliged to return him to his master ; on 
the contrary, that those to whom he might flee from the op- 
pression of a cruel master, should be bound to protect him, 
should not be permitted to deliver him up, but should give 
him shelter, and suffer him to dwell in safety, wherever he 
chose, without oppressing him. 



This beneficent statute was, in this view, a keystone for the 
arch of freedom, which the Jewish legislation was appointed 
to rear in the midst of universal despotism and slavery ; it 
formed a security for the keeping of all the other many pro- 
visions in favor of those held to labor or domestic service ; it 
opened a gate of refuge for the oppressed, and operated as a 
powerful restraint against the cruelty of the tyrannical master. 
There might be cruelty and tyranny in tthe land of Judea, but 
there was a legal escape from it ; the servant, the nry, if men 
attempted to treat him as a slave, could quit and choose his 
master, was not compelled to abide in bondage, was not 
hunted as a fugitive, nay, by law, was protected from being so 
hunted, and everywhere, on his escape, found friends in every 
dwelling, and a friend and protector in the law. 

It is impossible that such a provision as this should be made 
only in regard to the heathen slaves of the Canaanites, or of 
the nations around Judea, since the Jews were forbidden to 
enter into any treaties with the Canaanites, and were com- 
manded to bring under tribute of service as many of them as 
were spared. Their whole legislation, in regard to all the 
heathen, was by no means that of amity with masters or 
kings, but of opposition and of jealousy against them. They 


were forbidden to enter into covenant with them. Nor was 
there any more need of a statute for not restoring heathen 
slaves that had fled into the country of the Hebrews, than 
there would be of a law in Great Britain for not restoring the 
slaves of Egypt, or of the South Sea islanders, or of the canni- 
bals or savages in New Zealand, that had got away from their 
masters. But there might be need of such a law among the 
Hebrews, to mitigate the evils of servitude, to preserve the 
ti», the indentured servant of all work, from cruelty and op- 
pression, to prevent his service from passing into slavery, and 
to render it for the master's interest to treat him well and 
kindly, as knowing that, if he did not, the injured servant 
could escape from him, and seek another master, with impu- 
nity. So, if he would not lose him altogether, he was com- 
pelled to treat him kindly. 

There was no such law as this, no such humane statute, 
among the heathen; and hence the heathen masters were 
ferocious despots and were accustomed to restore fugitive 
slaves, even for the support of the system of slavery, that 
there might be neither relief nor release from their own au- 
thority, nor restraint nor check upon their own cruelty. Ac- 
cordingly we see the terror of the Egyptian slave whom Da- 
vid encountered after the foray upon Ziklag, lest he should be 
sent back to his master, 1 Samuel, xxx. 15. The slave called 
himself a young man of Egypt, "^Sto n?;, the servant -ns, to an 
Amalekite, 1 Samuel, xxx. 11, and his master had left him to 
die, because he fell sick. He made David swear that he would 
not send him back into that slavery. There was no such sys- 
tem of slavery among the Hebrews, and, with this humane 
law, there could be none. The operation of this law, in con- 
nection with other statutes, was certain, at length, to destroy 
all remains of slavery among the people, and to make all with- 
in the limits of the Hebrew nation wholly free. To bring 
about this desirable end, God so surrounded the system of 
servitude with wholesome checks, and entangled and crippled 


it with such meshes of benevolent legislation, such careful pro- 
tection of the servants, such guardianship of their rights, such 
admission of them to all the privileges of the covenant, such 
instruction of them, and such adoption of them at length as 
Hebrews, even when they were foreigners at first, that, in 
that land, among that people, there could be no such thing as 
that system of injustice, cruelty, and robbery, which Ave call 
slavery. It did not, and it could not, exist. 


This law, like the grand statute against man-stealing, strikes 
at the principle of property in man. It shows that God would 
not permit human beings to be regarded as property, as slaves 
in our day are considered property. Even if they had been 
called slaves, it is clear that their masters were not considered 
to be their owners, for they could take themselves off at pleas- 
ure, if oppressed, and nevertheless no wrong was charged 
upon them for thus escaping from bondage. They did not 
belong to the master in such manner that wherever found he 
had a claim upon them, and they must be given back. When 
they fled away, they were not considered as having stolen 
themselves ; and the man who found them neither acquired 
any claim over them himself, nor was under any obligation to 
the master to return them or to inform against them. The 
master, in such a case, was not the owner.* 

* Saalschutz, Das Mos. Recht, laws of other ancient and modern 

Laws of Moses, Vol. II., ch. ci., p. States, where bondage and slavery 

C97. lie remarks that as the laws have prevailed at the absolute will of 

were successively published, they the master. Slavery, in the sense of 

took under their protection, in every opposition to freedom, he says is not 

relation, the manly worth and feeling found in the Mosaic polity, nor has 

of those who served ; and the people the Hebrew language any word for 

were forbidden from delivering up the slave. Compare, for the system and 

fugitive, on any consideration, or from its details, Stroud, Slave Code, and 

doino- according to the customs and Goodell, American Slave Laws. 


Demonstration Continued Against Property in Man.— Difference Between Mas- 
tership of Servants and Ownership of Sheep.— Benevolent Intention of the 
Statute Protecting the Fugitive. — Violation of it by the Fugitive Slave 
Bill of the United States.— Historical Illustrations of the Statute.— Its 
Violation by the Jews, and Their Punishment. 


The prodigious power of demonstration in this statute 
against the possibility of property in man can not be seen but 
on a close comparison of it with the divine laws concerning 
the restoration of lost or stolen articles of property. The 
statute in regard to a man escaping from thralldom was ex- 

there was none; no such possibility was admitted. 

But in regard to a thing, the statute was equally explicit, 
the contrary way : Thou shalt restore all manner of lost 
things, whether found or stolen. All manner of property 
was to be restored ; but no human being, for a man could not 
be property. Examining these statutes, it will be seen at once 
what a difference is made between the mastership of a man 
over his servants, and oiciiershi}) over his cattle, his lands, his 
houses, and all riches. Exodus, xxiii. 4 : "If thou meet thine 
enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it 
back to him again." So in Deuteronomy : " Thou shalt not 
see thy brother's ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself 
from them ; thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy 
brother. And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou 
know him not, then thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, 
and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and 


thou slialt restore it to him again. In like manner shalt thou 
do with his ass ; and so shalt thou do with his raiment ; and 
with all lost things of thy brother's, which he has lost and 
thou hast found, shalt thou do likewise ; thou mayest not hide 
thyself." Deuteronomy, xxii. 1-3. 

Now as to the force of this demonstration that men can not 
be property, that men-servants and maid-servants were not 
and could not be the property of their masters, it makes no 
difference whether this statute be restricted to the heathen or 
not. It was incumbent on the Jew, if he saw the ox or the 
ass, even of his enemy, even of a heathen, or a stranger, going 
astray, to inform him of it, or bring the animal back: it be- 
longed to the man who had lost it, from whose power it had 
escaped. But if the servant of the same man, worth to him 
fourfold, escaped from him, and the Jew knew it, there was 
not only no obligation to let the master know, or to help re- 
turn the fugitive, but a direct command from God not to do 
this, but on the contrary to aid and protect the fugitive. It 
is impossible to deny or condemn more forcibly the assump- 
tion of property in man. Yet that is the assumption on which 
slavery is grounded, and if God condemns the one, he does 
the other. 

It is plain that if a slave were a thing, or if there had been 
such a thing as a slave recognized, such a possibility as that 
of property in man, there would have been no withdrawing 
that kind of thing, that kind of property, from under the op- 
eration of these laws ; the obligation was universal, of restor- 
ing all lost things, and the law would inevitably have read, 
Thou shalt especially restore unto his owner his lost slave. In- 
stead of that, it reads, Thou shalt not restore him, nor oppress 
him. It' he could have been property, then he would have 
been the most valuable of all property, and the men detaining 
him from his owner would have been the greatest of all 
thieves. If he could have been property, as an ox or a sheep 
is property, then the obligation to restore him to his owner 


would have been as much greater as a man is more valuable 
than a sheep. 

But lie could not be ; the claim of property in man was in- 
admissible, it was piracy, it was man-stealing ; and he that 
stole, sold, or held a human being as a slave, was inevitably to 
be put to death. The claim of property in man was such a 
crime that any connivance with it was worthy of death ; and 
any legal toleration or establishment of its possibility, would 
be a wrong against man so immeasurable, and a sin against 
God so infinite, that to admit it even by implication in a just 
code was impossible. God forbade the very supposition of 
property in man. 


This glorious fugitive law, enshrining this majestic impossi- 
bility of property in man, stands by itself in the divine code, 
terse, whole, angular and perfect, as well defined and indis- 
putable as a diamond in its setting. It is a suitable companion 
for the law against man-stealing, completing the demonstration 
against slavery, and with the running fiery commentary of the 
prophets, denouncing this and every form of oppression, will 
for ever remain among the most convincing proofs of a divine 
revelation. What enmity and treachery towards God, what 
wanton malignity towards man, are involved in the attempt 
to prevent and falsify the meaning, or to deny the application 
and authority of these sacred statutes ! He that labors to 
hide or strike away such radiant seals of divinity in the Scrip- 
tures is worse than an infidel. 


It might have been supposed that every Christian State 
would rejoice in such legislation, and copy the same in its own 
jurisprudence. For the Hebrew statute, as revealed and en- 
joined directly from Jehovah, must inevitably contain, it can 



not be denied, the exposition and concentration of perfect 
justice and benevolence ; an example of the will of God and 
the way of righteousness in this thing, for all generations and 
all nations. It is a fountain star, an orb of light divine, hung 
in the firmament of God's own legislation for his own people, 
the object of all that legislation being to train them more 
and more perfectly for his service, to bring them more com- 
pletely away from the example and the power of human 
depravity, and to prepare them to reflect, as in a mirror, 
the glory of his truth, righteousness, and goodness in the 

Now, in the place of that orb of light, the United States 
government and people have hung up, in the fugitive slave 
bill, in the firmament of their legislation, a perfect orb of cru- 
elty and darkness. It is one of the most complete and finished 
examples ever known on earth of a Christian nation deliber- 
ately ignoring and defying the instructions vouchsafed from 
heaven, and in the very face of those divine teachings on a 
subject of universal and fundamental morality between man 
and man, proceeding on principles contrary to the divine be- 
nevolence, and enacting laws contrary to the divine law ; just 
as absolutely contrary as they possibly could be made. If the 
intention had been absolute, to contradict Heaven, and thwart 
the purposes of God, the statute could not have been more 
cunningly contrived. 

The divinely revealed statute was enacted by command 
of God to shield the weaker party from cruelty and op- 
pression. The statute of this Christian country was enacted 
by inspiration and command of the oppressor, to secure and 
establish him more completely in his oppression, and to ren- 
der it impossible for the victims of such oppression to 

God's statute was framed that if the victim should escape, 
he should not be recaptured. The statute of this Christian 
republic was passed, that if the victim should escape, Christian 


men should be forbidden to aid him, and compelled to bring 
him back again to bondage. 

God's statute sympathizes with the oppressed. This Chris- 
tian statute sympathizes with the oppressor. It was rightly 
declared by a slave commissioner and judge, in the act of sen- 
tencing a fugitive under this law, that there being no principle 
of Christian charity in it, no appeal could be taken to Chris- 
tian charity against it. 

Cod's statute was framed to prevent the possibility of a 
covenanted and voluntary service passing into the enforced 
and involuntary servitude of slavery. The statute of this 
Christian nation was framed to prevent slavery from the pos- 
sibility of any alleviation, or transformation into free, volun- 
tary, just and righteous service. 

God's statute was framed to prevent the possibility of build- 
ing upon the service of a freeman a claim to the service of a 
slave, or upon a contract with the parent a claim to the serv- 
ice of the child. The statute of this Christian country was 
framed to subject the man, once stolen, to hopeless bondage, 
and the parent to the operation of a compound oppression, 
that, through him, descends with aggravated power upon his 
children and his children's children. 

This hereditary cruelty is the most infernal feature of its 
infamy and wickedness. For this law, by the most infamous 
fraud and robbery ever perpetrated under heaven, taking 
advantage of the wrong, that in acknowledged defiance of 
natural right, and common justice and humanity, gave posses- 
sion of the parent, fastens, through him, and without shadow 
of law, whether in letter or in spirit, nay, against both the 
spirit and letter of the Constitution, its teeth upon his off- 

Under cover of the phrase, persons owing service and es- 
caping shall be returned to the party to whom such service is 
due, the parents themselves are not only returned to the op- 
pressor from whom they had escaped, but the torture of this 


oppression, the complicated flings of this viper-knotted scourge 
of law, strike and are riveted within the sacred vail of un- 
born life. The pincers and forceps of the demon of slavery 
are the instruments by which, under this Christian legalized 
surgery of hell, the pledges of the slave-mother's love are 
born into the world. The brand of this cruelty is burned in 
before the chattel-babe has seen the light, and the Constitu- 
tion, perverted for this purpose, descends upon that stamp, 
under forgery of service due (!!!) under soal and sanction of 
the Supreme Court of Justice ; and the whole power of the 
government is flung down upon it, to send the image and su- 
perscription through all generations. Under forgery of service 
due, the Constitution is distorted into a vast piracy ; and un- 
der such torture and perversion, the government and people 
have concocted a law diabolically contrary to the divine law, 
and subversive of every principle of Christian morals, every 
instinct of natural humanity, and every obligation of Christian 
charity. It is a law affirming that slavery is service due, and 
that the returning of stolen property to the thief becomes, 
when the article stolen is a human being, a national obliga- 
tion ! 

With the infamous crime of child-stealing foisted into it, 
the Constitution itself becomes a kidnapping instrument ; and 
if there were anywhere on earth a constitution made for such 
villainy, a constitution concentrating, justifying, and perpetu- 
ating such a crime, it would be the enemy of the human race, 
and ought to be outlawed from human society, broken up and 
destroyed, as you would a den of pirates. There is no such 
iniquity in our Constitution, there never was designed to be, 
there never can be ; and yet the slaveocracy have succeeded 
in boring a place for it, and laying the eggs of the monster ; 
and the Fugitive Slave Bill hatches it into life, full grown. 
By this perversion of the Constitution, and this enactment 
fostering and securing it, we have become, not so much a na- 
tion of man-stealers as of child-stealers, infant-thieves. "When 


the Roman Church commit this sin against a single Jewish 
child, it is an outrage on the moral sense of the world ; but 
when the church of the slaveocracy practice it on the children 
of millions, then it is God's grand providential missionary in- 


We may add that, if the servant in any class, either the 
its, or the T^to, had been regarded as property, and if the 
law against the recapture or restoration of fugitive servants 
was intended only with reference to foreigners, and did not 
apply to the Hebrews, then must the exception necessarily 
have been made clear in such a statute as Deuteronomy, xxii. 
1-3. " All lost things" of his brother's, a Hebrew was bound 
to restore ; and if slaves were property, and the Hebrews had 
held slaves, then inevitably must lost or escaped slaves have 
been enumerated as among the things to be restored. Com- 
pare Exodus, xxii. 9 : " For all manner of trespass, whether it 
be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of 
lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of 
both parties shall come before the judges, and whom the 
judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neigh- 
bor." If men had not been forbidden thus to challenge the 
fugitive, nny, the escaping servant, as their property, a like 
provision must inevitably have been made for trying this claim 
also before the judges. But in the whole history of the He- 
brews, there are no instances on record of the reclamation of 
fugitive slaves in their country, under their laws. There are 
cases mentioned of servants escaping ; and the statute itself 
was the supposition that they would escape, and formed a pro- 
tection and a safeguard for them ; but there is never a case 
named, nor any intimation of any such event, of a master 
hunting for slaves, going in search of, or reclaiming, his run- 
away property, in the country of the Hebrews. There are 

254 NABAL'S complaint TO DAVID. 

instances of men going from Dan to Beersheba to hunt up 
and reclaim an ox or an ass, but never a hint of any such thing 
as a man hunting, or reclaiming, or recapturing, a fugitive 

And yet, from incidental testimony, the more striking be- 
cause it falls out naturally in the course of the history of 
David, we said that it was no uncommon thing for servants 
to escape, and to be going at large, unmolested. Nabal's 
complaint to the messengers of David proves this: "There be 
many servants, tr-ry, nowadays, that break away every man 
from his master," 1 Samuel, xxv. 10 ; and the manner of the 
complaint argues the anger of Nabal because such a thing 
could be, and the servants get off with impunity. But no in- 
stance can be found of any man undertaking, with marshals, 
or otherwise, to recapture them. There is no hint of any jposse 
comitatus at the disposal of the master for this purjxise. Had 
there been such a thing as a Fugitive Slave Law against the 
slave, instead of one for his protection, Nabal's language would 
rather have been that of threatening, than complaint. " You 
rogues, if you do not take yourselves off, I will have you ar- 
rested as fugitive slaves, such as you doubtless are, you va- 
grant rascals. I will have you lodged in the county jail, and, 
if your master does not appear, you shall be sold to pay the 
jail fees." But Nabal's language is that of " a son of Belial," 
who is furious because there is no help for such insubordina- 
tion against tyranny. 


The case of Shimei must be considered in illustration, be- 
cause, at first thought, it might seem to be an exception, and 
might appear as an instance of reclamation. 1 Kings, ii. 39, 
40. Two of the servants, b^-.s?— >:», of Shimei ran away to 
Achish, king of Gath, son of Maachah, and from thence infor- 
mation came to Shimei ; and in his blind haste to recapture 
these runaways, forgetting or despising his oath to Solomon, 


he saddled his ass and went to Gath, and found his servants, 
and brought them back to Jerusalem. It is no wonder, from 
the description given of Shimei's cursed manners and dispo- 
sition, that his servants, even purchased, as they may have 
been, from the heathen, could not endure his service, but pre- 
ferred to run away even into a heathen country ; and it is not 
a little singular that the first and only instance of a slave- 
hunter figuring in sacred history is that of this condemned liar, 
hypocrite, and blasphemer. But he captures his servants in 
the country of the Philistines, and not in a land under Hebrew 
law. Doubtless, they were foreigners and heathen, not He- 
brews, or they would not have fled away to Achish, king of 
Gath ; they would have been secure against Shimei's claim in 
their own country, but there was no law for the protection of 
slaves in the land of the Philistines ; and, although they im- 
agined themselves more secure from pursuit there, especially 
as they must have known that their master himself was a pris- 
oner of state within certain limits in Jerusalem, yet the rage 
of Shimei defeated their calculations, and they were brought 
back. It may have been by some friendship of Achish with 
Shimei, and a spite against king Solomon, that this was ac- 
complished, which made king Solomon the more ready to in- 
flict upon Shimei, without any further reprieve, the sentence 
he had brought upon himself. 

The history in 2 Chronicles, xxviii. 8-15, has an important 
bearing in illustration of this and other statutes, especially 
those for the protection of the Hebrews from becoming slaves. 
The kingdoms of Judah and Israel were at war, and the latter 
had taken captive of the former two hundred thousand, whom 
they proposed to keep for bondmen and bondwomen, the 
ordinary fate* of those taken captive in war. But the fierce 
wrath of God was instantly threatened, if they carried this 
intended crime into execution ; and some able and patriotic 
leaders of the tribe of Ephraim resisted the proposition with 
such effectual energy, that the men of the army left the cap- 


tives to their disposal; whereupon they generously clothed 
and fed them, and carried them back free to their own coun- 
try. The intention had been, contrary to the divine law, to 
bring them into bondage in a manner expressly forbidden. It 
is to be feared that in some instances the legal prohibitions 
against such slavery had already been set at defiance both by 
rulers and people in the two kingdoms ; but never yet had 
the attempt been made in so bold and public a manner, and 
on so huge a scale, to override the laws. 


There are very decisive intimations, however, that look as 
if this iniquity of a forced and continued bondage, by which 
the Jewish masters retained their servants contrary to law, 
had become, at a later period, one of the great outstanding 
crimes of the nation. After the divulsion of the kingdom into 
two, those persons unjustly held in bondage would be likely 
to take refuge from cruel taskmasters in one kingdom by flee- 
ing into the other ; and the law in Deuteronomy was unques- 
tionable and explicit : " Thou shalt not deliver unto his mas- 
ter the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee. 
He shall dwell with thee where it liketh him best. Thou 
shalt not oppress him." Contrary to this great statute of Je- 
hovah, there may have been compacts or compromises between 
the two kingdoms for the delivering up of such fugitive ; or 
if not between the kingdoms, at least between confederacies of 
masters. But whatever fugitive slave laws might be j)assed, 
or compacts entered into, they were all as so many condemned 
statutes, judged and condemned beforehand by the law of 
God, and to be held null and void by those who would keep 
his commandments. Nevertheless, with the example once set, 
first in one kingdom then in the other, of such unrighteous stat- 
utes, it might become comparatively easy, through powerful 
interests, by the combination of large holders, or of those who 
could profitably become slave-masters by trading with the 


heathen, not only to evade the divine law, but at length to get 
statutes passed, though manifestly and directly contrary to it, 
for the protection of slave property, or to assist in retaining or 
recovering such property. There might be enactments for 
the interests of the masters, s tting at naught all the pro- 
- visions of the divine law for the limitation of servitude, the 
preventing of slavery, and the protection and emancipation of 
indentured servants. 

That some such form of oppression began to be prevalent 
soon after the separation of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, 
the tenor of the Prophets and the Psalms, from Joel to Mala- 
chi, leads us to suppose. It is probable that this legislation 
for the masters, this care for their interests and their favor, 
this oppression of those whom they held in bondage, and this 
disregard of the divine law in their behalf, are referred to by 
the prophet Amos, especially in the fourth chapter of his 
prophecy, where God rebukes the princes, the rulers, and the 
wealthy and great men, for oppressing the poor and crushing 
the needy, but saying to their masters, Bring business and 
wealth, and let us trade and drink together, Amos, iv. 1. 
Compare also Amos, ii. 6 : "They sold the righteous for silver, 
and the poor for a pair of shoes." Scott's note on the first of 
these passages presents the case in a manner not improbable : 
"They crushed and trampled on their unresisting brethren, 
and sold them for slaves. Having made the iniquitous bar- 
gain, perhaps, on low terms, they required from the purchaser 
in this slave-trade to be treated with wine." It may have been 
partly in reference to such sins as these, that the rebuke of 
God by the prophet Micah was directed, that " the statutes of 
Omri were kept, and all the counsels of the house of Ahab," 
Micah, vi. 16. For, immediately after that indictment, it is 
asserted that " men are hunting, every man his brother, with a 
net ; and the prince asketh, and the judge asketh, for a re- 
ward, and the great man uttereth his mischievous desire ; and 
so they wrap it up, the best of them being as a briar, and 


the most upright sharper than a thorn-hedge," Micah, vii. 
2, 3, 4. 

It was in reference to such iniquity, this great and glaring 
guilt of oppression especially, that many passages in the 
Prophets and the Psalms were written. " Woe unto them 
that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness 
which they have prescribed, to turn aside the needy from 
judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my 
people," Isaiah, x. 10. "He looked for judgment, but behold 
oppression," Isaiah, v. 7. " Hear the word of the Lord, ye 
rulers of Sodom ; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people 
of Gomorrah. Your hands are full of blood. When ye make 
many prayers, I will not hear. Put away the evil of your do- 
ings. Seek judgment; relieve the oppressed," Isaiah, i. 10- 
17. "Woe unto them which justify the wicked for reward, 
and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him. 
Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame 
consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and 
their blossom shall go up as dust, because they have cast 
away the law of the Lord of Hosts, and despised the word of 
the Holy one of Israel," Isaiah, v. 23, 24. Compare Jeremiah, 
vi. 6, and vii. 5, 6, and xxii. 17. 


It is in the light of such historic references, showing to 
what a degree the Jews had corrupted justice, and set up op- 
pression, in a system of precedent and law, in contempt of 
the divine law, that we come to the consideration of the great 
illustrative record in Jeremiah, xxxiv. The progress of the 
iniquity and the ruin therein recorded had been gradual, from 
father to son, from generation to generation, Jeremiah, xxxiv. 
14 ; but at length it arose to the crisis of an open, combined) 
and positive rebellion against God, in entirely trampling under 
foot the great ordinance against Hebrew slavery, contained in 
Exodus, xxi. 2, and confirmed and guarded by other statutes. 


The crime of injustice and rebellion was the more marked and 
daring, because it had been preceded by a fitful penitence and 
acknowledgment of the oppression, and acceptance of the law 
as righteous, and a return to its observance, with a new cove- 
nant to that effect. So the whole people, princes and people, 
loosed their grasp upon the servants they had been unjustly 
retaining in bondage, and for a season, at the word of the 
Lord, let them go. But, on reflection, they felt that it was 
too great a sacrifice of power, and relinquishment of property, 
to which they would not submit. " So they turned, and 
caused the servants and the handmaids, whom they had let go 
free, to return, and brought them into subjection for servants 
and for handmaids," Jeremiah, xxxiv. 11. Then came the 
word of the Lord, and its execution followed, as the lightning 
doth the thunder: " Because ye have not hearkened unto me, 
in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother, and every one 
to his neighbor, behold I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the 
Lord, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine ; and 
I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms of the 
earth," Jeremiah, xxxiv. 17. 

It throws a solemn light of additional warning upon this 
transaction, to compare with this chapter of Jeremiah, the 
cotemporary prophecy of Ezekiel, in the twenty-second chap- 
ter of that prophet. As men gather silver, brass, iron, lead, 
and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon 
it, to melt it, so God informed Ezekiel that he was now gath- 
ering the whole house of Israel, that had become dross, priests, 
princes, prophets, and people in the midst of Jerusalem, to 
pour out his fury upon them, and melt them as refuse metals 
in the midst of the fire. The indictment of their wickedness 
in this chapter, issued just three years before the prediction 
of Jeremiah, in the thirty-fourth of his prophecy, closes with 
these words: " The people of the land have used oppression, 
and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy ; 
yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully. And I 


sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge, 
and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not 
destroy it, but I found none. Therefore have I poured out 
mine indignation upon them ; I have consumed them with the 
fiie of my wrath ; their own way have I recompensed upon 
their heads, said the Lord God." 

Almost at the same moment, and in view of the same pre- 
dicted event, though residing at so wide a distance from each 
other, these two prophets were charged with God's denunci- 
ation against the same sin of oppression, as the one climac- 
teric occasion and cause of the destruction of the nation. God 
refers the }>eople back to the first covenant of freedom in Ex- 
odus, xxii., abolishing and forbidding slavery for ever ; and 
the violation of that covenant, in the attempt to establish 
the forbidden sin, is distinctly and with sublime and awful 
emphasis, marked by Jehovah in his one, final, conclusive rea- 
son for giving over the nation into the hand of their enemies, 
and sweeping the whole community into bondage. It would 
not be possible to transmit, in historic form, a more tremen- 
dous reprobation of the sin of slavery, and of slavery as a sin. 
From Ezekiel, xxii., and Jeremiah, xxxiv., this lesson stands 
out as the one grand lesson of God's vengeance in the cap- 


Miciiaelis, on this historic passage, supposes that for some 
considerable time this oppression, this violation of God's cov- 
enant in depriving the servants of their freedom, had been 
going on ; but that king Zedekiah, terrified by Jeremiah's 
2>reaching, and by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, had agreed 
with the princes and people to repent of this their wickedness, 
and had accordingly, for a little season, set their servants free, 
as God had commanded. But then, reflecting on the profit- 
ableness of such property, and the vastness of the sacrifice of 
power and gain in relinquishing it, they concluded that they 


would not do it, and accordingly reenslaved their servants as 
their property for ever. For this renewed crime, against which 
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and other prophets had been thundering 
the word of the Lord, God's wrath arose without remedy, and 
he swept the whole race away. 

With this view of the case, the prophets all agree, and many 
passages become plainer in the light of the closing develop- 
ment of the great tragedy. For example, Jeremiah, v. 20-31, 
manifestly refers to the progress of this iniquity: "For among 
my people are found wicked men ; they lay wait as he that 
setteth snares ; they set a trap, they catch men. They judge 
not the cause of the fatherless nor the right of the needy. The 
prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their 
means." Also, Jeremiah, vi. 6 : " The city is wholly oppres- 
sion in the midst of her ; cast a mound against Jerusalem, the 
city to be visited." Also, Jeremiah, vii. 4-17 : "If ye oppress 
not the stranger, the fatherless and the widoAV, then may ye 
dwell in the land ; but otherwise, I will cast you out of my 
sight." Also, xxi. 12: "Execute judgment in the morning, 
and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, let 
my fury go out like fire and burn that none can quench it, be- 
cause of the evil of your doings." Also, xxii. 3-13-17 : " Ex- 
ecute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled 
out of the hand of the oppressor ; and do no wrong, do no 
violence to the stranger. Woe unto him that buildeth his 
house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong ; that 
useth his neighbor's service without wages, and giveth him 
not for his work. Did not thy father do judgment and justice, 
and then it was well with him ? He judged the cause of the 
poor and needy ; then it was well with him ; was not this to 
know me, saith the Lord? But thine eyes and thy heart are 
not but for thy covetousness, and for oppression and violence. 
Therefore are they cast out into a land which they know not." 

The particular sin, and the particular punishment, oppres- 
sion and the retribution, are here developed. 


On a comparison of Ezekiel, xviii. and xxii. the same great 
facts are manifest. One of the characteristics of a man of true 
piety, a just man before God, is repeatedly stated as being the 
hatred and avoidance of oppression ; " hath not oppressed 
any, hath spoiled none by violence, hath executed true judg- 
ment between man and man." But on the other hand, the 
characteristics of a wicked man, and the sure conditions of 
God's wrath, are, "if he have oppressed the poor and needy, 
spoiled his brother, cruelly oppressed any." In the twenty- 
second chapter, the princes and the people are arraigned as 
having done this, among other wickedness: "In the midst 
of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger ; in 
thee have they vexed the fatherless and widow ; in thee have 
they set light by father and mother; in thee are men that 
have carried tales and taken gifts to shed blood, and thou 
hast greedily gained by extortion. The priests have violated 
my law. The princes are like wolves ravening the prey, to 
get dishonest gain. And her prophets have daubed them with 
untempered mortar, divining lies. The people of the land 
have used oppression and exercised robbery, and have vexed 
the poor and needy ; yea, they have oppressed the stranger 
wrongfully : therefore have I consumed them with the fire of 
my wrath." 

On a comparison with other cotemporary prophets, Zecha- 
riah, Zephaniah, Ilabakkuk, and, somewhat later, Malachi, we 
meet with astonishing illustrations ; as, for example, where God 
reminds Zechariah of his former commandment : " Execute true 
judgment, and show mercy and compassion every man to his 
brother ; and oppress not the widow nor the fatherless, the 
stranger nor the poor ; and let none of you imagine evil 
against your brother in his heart. But they refused to hearken, 
and made their hearts as adamant against the law, lest they 
should hear ; therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of 
hosts, and he scattered them with a whirlwind among the na- 
tions," Zechariah, vii. 7-14. 


The testimony of Zephaniah is to the same point : " Woe 
to the oppressing city ! Her princes within her are roaring 
lions ; her judges are evening wolves ; they gnaw not the bones 
till the morrow." The same terrible facts of oppression and 
cruelty, unjust judgment, violence, and compulsory servitude 
without wages, are disclosed in Habakkuk ; the violence of the 
land, the city, and all that dwell therein. 

It is the iniquity of oppression, in the shape of unrequited 
and unjustly compelled servitude, the oppression of the stranger 
in the same way ; the defrauding him of his rights, the per- 
version of law and of just judgment in regard to him, and the 
trampling upon him and his children with hereditary cruelty, 
that are distinctly described as having brought down the 
wrath of God without remedy. And these are precisely our 
sins; and there are some expressions in these indictments 
and catalogues of crime fearfully descriptive of the state of 
jurisprudence and of social manners in the United States.* 

* For example, her judges are slavery, on the ground of pretended 

evening wolves. One needs only to service due, when it could be proved 

read the published account of the that the child was not only in no sense 

atrocious injustice and cruelty perpe- a fugitive, but had never been a slave I 

tratcd by one of the judges of Mary- A' hyena should be set in bronze as 

land, under the Fugitive Slave Bill, the image of such American justice ; 

against a mother and her child, re- and the statue of an evening wolf 

manding them both into slavery, re- would be a fitting monument for a 

fusing the introduction of proof that man capable of a decision so mean, 

even if the mother had been a slave, so detestable, so superfluously cruol 

the child was not a runaway, and was and barbarous, 
free 1 Condemning them both to 


Recapitulations of Statutes. — Four Forms of Statute Law Rendering Slavery 
Impossible. — Climax in the Law of Jubilee. — Universality of this Law for 
all the Inhabitants Demonstrated. — Liberty Throughout the Land. — If not 
for All, Then a Premium on Slavery. — Analogy of Other Statutes. — Proof 
From the Prophets. — Leading Idea in the Law. 

We have now to consider the institution and the law of the 
jubilee, as the completion of the system of social benevolence 
and freedom embodied in the Mosaic statutes. 

Meantime we have before us, even if we stopped short of 
that, a body of laws embracing, as thus far traced, beyond all 
comparison, the most benign, protective, and generous system 
of domestic servitude, the kindest to the servants, and the 
fairest for the masters, ever framed in any country or in any 
age. The rights of the servants are defined and guaranteed 
as strictly, and with as much care, as those of the employers 
or masters. Human beings could not be degraded into slaves 
or chattels, or bound for involuntary service, or seized and 
worked for profit, and no wages paid. The defenses against 
these outrages, the denouncement and prohibition of them, 
are among the clearest legal and historical judgments of God 
against slavery. The system of slavery in our own country, 
even in the light only of these provisions, holds its power by 
laws most manifestly conflicting with the divine law, and 
stands indisputably under the divine reprobation. 


Four forms of statute law combined, in this divinely-ordered 
social arrangement, to render slavery for ever impossible among 
a people regardful of justice and obedient to God. First. 


The law of religious equality and dignity, gathering all classes 
as brethren and children of one family before God. Instruc- 
tion, recreation and rest were secured in the institution of the 
Sabbath, and its cognate sacred seasons, following the same 
law; and freedom, not slavery, was inevitable. 

Second, by the same system, the original act of oppression 
and violence, which has been the grand and almost ouly source 
of all the slavery in our own country, w T as branded and placed 
in the catalogue of crime, on a level with that of murder, to 
be punished by death. It requires no particular acuteness of 
vision to perceive that what was an injustice to the parents, 
worthy of death, can not be transformed, in the next genera- 
tion, or the next after, to a righteous institution, sacred by 
the grace of God. By covenant, the curse of the Almighty 
is upon it. 

Third, the right of possession to himself, is recognized as 
resting, by the nature of humanity and the authority of God's 
law, in each individual ; and the sac-redness of the human per- 
sonality is demonstrated by the same law to be such, that a 
human being can not, but by the highest violence and crime, 
be degraded into an article of pi*operty and merchandise. 
From the Mosaic statutes, it is indisputable that such is the 
judgment of God ; and the successive history, which takes its 
course and coloring from them, or from their violation, con- 
firms the demonstration. From the statutes and the history 
together it is as clear that slavery is a moral abomination in the 
sight of God, as it is from the history in Genesis that the in- 
iquity of Sodom and Gomorrah was a sin. The destruction 
of Judah and Jerusalem for the iniquity of oppression, in this 
particular form, of a forced involuntary bondage, was a more 
stupendous and enlightening judgment by far, all things con- 
sidered, than the overwhelming of the cities of the plain with 
fire. How can it be possible for any unprejudiced reader of 
the word of God to avoid acknowledging our own condemna- 
tion in this licrht ? 


Fourth, the protection, by statute, of the servant escaping 
from his master, instead of any provision for the master's re- 
gaining possession of the servant, was another interposition in 
behalf of the weaker party, in the same design of rendering 
slavery impossible, and is another plain indication of the judg- 
ment of God as to the iniquity of American slavery, and of 
the laws for the support of it. The Hebrew system was so 
absolute and effective a safeguard against oppression, and ren- 
dered any form of slavery so impracticable, and in its legiti- 
mate working would have so inevitably subdued the slavery 
of all surrounding nations to its own freedom, that it stands 
out as a superhuman production, the gift of God, The wis- 
dom and benevolence of the Almighty appear in it to such a 
degree, in comparison and contrast with the habits and mor- 
als of the world, that the claim of the Pentateuch to a divine 
inspiration might, in no small measure, be permitted to rest 
upon it. 


We come now to the consideration of the law of the jubi- 
lee, in Leviticus, xxv. 10, 35-55. This great statute of per- 
sonal freedom was as follows: "Ye shall hallow the fiftieth 
year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the 
inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you, and ye shall 
return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every 
man unto his family." Liberty throughout the land unto 
all the inhabitants tueeeof. The expression is chosen on 
purpose for its comprehensiveness. It is not said to all the 
inhabitants of the land, being Hebrews, Or such as are He- 
brews, which restriction would have been made, had it been 
intended ; as is manifest from the case in Jeremiah, xxxiv., 
where the restriction is carefully and repeatedly announced. 
But the phrase all the inhabitants of the land, seems to have 
an intensity of meaning, comprehending, purposely, all, whether 


Hebrews or not; it being well known that many of the in- 
habitants of the land were not Hebrews. This phrase, the 
inhabitants of the land, had been frequently used to describe 
its old heathen possessors, the Canaanites, and others, as Ex 
odus, xxiii. 31, xxxiv. 12, and Numbers, xxxii. 17, xxxiii. 52. It 
is used, Joshua, ii. 9, vii. 9, ix. 24, in the same way. It is never 
used restrictively for Hebrews alone ; not an instance can be 
found of such usage in the Mosaic books. It is used in Jeremiah, 
i. 14, an evil on all the inhabitants of the land, and in Joel, i. 
2, and ii. 1, let all the inhabitants of the land tremble. In this 
statute in Leviticus, it is the whole number of inhabitants of 
the land, held in servitude, that are included. Ye people of 
Israel shall do this, shall proclaim liberty to all the inhabitants 
of the land. 

And proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabit- 
ants thereof The Hebrew is as follows : y^a n'-ii- cr.N-jy* 
rpr^-ViV, and preach freedom in the land to all the dwellers 
thereof The expression is emphatic : the proclamation to be 
made throughout the length and breadth of the land, not to 
those only who inhabited it as Hebrews by descent, but to all 
that dwelt in it. Had it been intended to restrict the appli- 
cation of this statute, the class excluded from its application 
would have been named ; another form of expression would 
have been used. Had it been intended to make a law broad, 
universal, exceptional in its application, no other phraseology 
could be used than that which is used. If it had been a form 
of class-legislation, it must necessarily have been so worded 
as to admit of no mistake. But the expression employed is 
found, without exception, in all cases, with an unlimited, uni- 
versal meaning. It is never used where a particular class alone 
are intended. The proof of its usage, and the demonstration 
from its usage may be seen by examination of the following 

Isaiah, xviii. 3: All ye inhabitants of the world, and dweller's 
on the earth. y-K ■'ssw'i Van ■ , 5 > f"'~ ^ . Here are two words 


used as synonymous. The first is the word employed in the 
law under consideration, from the verb att% with the meaning 
to continue, to dwell, to inhabit • and this is the word ordi- 
narily employed to designated the whole people inhabiting a 
country. The second is from the verb yzti, to encamp, to rest, 
to dwell, employed much less frequently, as in Job, xxvi. 5, 
the waters and the inhabitants thereof, dn"»M:to> b^tt. Also, 
Proverbs, i. 33 ; viii. 12; x. 30. Psalm xxxvii. 29; cii. 28. 
In Isaiah, xxxii. 16 ; xxxiii. 24, and in Joel, iii. 20, and some 
other places, as in Psalm lxix. 35, both these verbs are used 
interchangably. But the verb yzxa is used exclusively in a 
number of passages which speak of God as dwelling among 
his people, or in his temple. And hence the use of the word 
Shechinah, firsts, the tabernacle of God's presence. In Isaiah, 
xxxiii. 24, we have the noun yzxo for inhabitant, and the verb 
ay"> for the people that dwell. But the noun ■jtttj is very seldom 
used, while the participle from sen is employed in more than 
seventy passages to signify the inhabitants of the land, or of 
the world, without any restriction. For example : 

Leviticus, xviii. 25 : The land vomiteth out her inhabitants, 

Judges, ii. 2 : Make no league with the inhabitants of the 

bind. y-iNr; impV. 

Psalm xxxiii. 8 : All the inhabitants of the world, ^sr? "qaji-fes. 
Psalm xxxiii. 14: All the inhabitants of the earth, yz^ 

Isaiah, xxiv. 1, 5, G, 17 : Inhabitants of the earth ; also, xxvi. 
9, inhabitants of the world, V=n i;x-\ 

Jeremiah, xxv. 29, 30 : Inhabitants of the earth, and Lam- 
entations, iv. 12, of the world. 

Joel, ii. 1 : Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, 

And so in multiplied instances. There is no case to be 
found in which this expression signifies only a portion of the 
inhabitants, or a particular class. Of the two words to which 


we have referred, the form "jsy would most prohably have 
been employed, if only a j>ortion of the inhabitants, and not 
all classes had been intended. There would be just as good 
reason to restrict the denunciation in Joel, ii. 1, or i. 2 : Give ear 
all the inhabitants of the land, to a particular and limited 
class, as to restrict the expression in which the law of jubilee 
is framed. 


Indeed, according to the universal reason of language, and 
especially according to the necessity of precise and accurate 
phraseology in the framing of laws, had the blessings and 
privileges of the jubilee been intended only for native-born 
Hebrews, or guaranteed only to such, the expression univer- 
sally employed on other occasions when that particular por- 
tion of the inhabitants alone are concerned, would have been 
employed on this. There being such a well-known phrase, 
capable of no misunderstanding, the law would have been 
conveyed by it. The phrase must have been the common one, 
of which one of the earliest examples is in Exodus, xii. 19 ? 
Wtso Vki'» , >. wy. : The congregation of Israel horn in the land. 
In Exodus, xii. 48, the distinctive expression, to particularize 
the native Hebrew, is used along with yns, thus, yyvn cntN the 
horn in the land, the native of the lajid of Hebrew birth or 

Whenever there was danger of misinterpretation, misap- 
plication, or confusion, as to the class intended by a law, this 
phrase was employed, and the distinction, whatever it was, 
which the law intended, was made plain ; or, if there was dan- 
ger of making a distinction where none ought to be made, 
that was equally plain. For example, Leviticus, xvi. 29, the 
fast and Sabbath of the day of atonement being appointed, its 
observance is made obligatory on the stranger as well as the 
native Hebrew, by the following words: sss'na -i:.n nari'i rt^T«H: 
Both the native horn and the stranger that sojourneth among 


you. So in Leviticus, xviii. 2G : " Ye shall not commit any of 
these abominations, neither any of your own nation, nor any 
stranger," nam hir^n. Again, Leviticus, xix. 34 : As one born 
among you shall the stranger be that dwelleth with you, 
nsn t=V n-r,' D5» i-ntsn ; and it is added, Thou shall love him 
as thyst If, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Again, 
Leviticus, xxiv. 1G: He that blasphemeth the name of the 
Lord, as well the stranger as he that is bom in the land, 
rntso nas. And Leviticus, xxiv. 22: Ye shall have one man- 
ner of law, as tvell for the stranger as for one of your own 
country, ft-rs^s naa. 

So in regard to the passover, Numbers, ix. 14: Ye shall 
have one ordinance, both for the stranger and for him that 
was bom in the land, y-xn i-r^y* -\ih\ The same in regard to 
atonement for sins of ignorance, and punishment for sins of 
presumption, Numbers, xv. 29, 30, two instances of the same 
expression, employed where there was any danger of a misap- 
plication or insufficient application of the law. In the first in- 
stance, the expression, Him that is bom among the children 
of Israel, VkSw*; ism rr-TKH, is set over against the stranger 
that sojourneth among them. In the second instance, the 
comparison is more concise : Whether the bom in the land or 
the stranger, nsr— ,S5 rntsn—j pa. Joshua, viii. 33, affords a 
striking example, where, to prevent the expression all Israel 
from being restricted so as to exclude the stranger, it is 
added, As well the stranger as he that was born among them, 
iTrtNa las. The expression all Israel not being necessarily so 
universal as the expression all the inhabitants of the land, its 
enlarged meaning is defined ; and just so if the expression, all 
the inhabitants of the land, had been used in any case where 
not all the inhabitants of the land, but only all the native Is- 
raelites were meant, the restrictive meaning must have been 
defined; otherwise, it would inevitably include both the na- 
tive and the stranger, both the n^t* and the na. 

This word mts, used to designate the native Hebrew in 


distinction from the stranger or any foreigner, is a very strik- 
ing one, from the verb rnt, to rise, to grow, or sprout forth, 
as a tree growing out of its own soil. It is used in Psalm 
xxxvii. 35, to signify a tree in full verdure and freshness ; in 
the common version, a green bay-tree, y.'^ rnt»i. It is thus a 
very idiomatic and beautiful word for particularizing the Israel- 
ite of home descent, the child of Abraham. There can not be 
a doubt that this expression must have been used in framing 
the law of jubilee, had it been intended to restrict its privi- 
leges as belonging not to the stranger, but to the home-born. 


Moreover, it is obvious that, if this comprehensive and ad- 
mirable law meant that only Hebrew servants were to be set 
free, but that others might be retained in servitude at the 
pleasure of the masters, or, in other words, might be made 
slaves, the law would have acted as a direct premium upon 
slavery, offering a very strong inducement to have none but 
such servants as could be kept as long as any one chose, such 
as were absolutely and for ever in the power of the master. 
So far from being a benevolent law, it would thus become a 
very cruel and oppressive law, the source of infiuite mischief 
and misery. If the choice had been offered to the Hebrews, 
by law, between servants whom they could compel to remain 
with them as slaves, and servants whom they would have to 
dismiss, at whatever inconvenience, every sixth year, and also 
at the jubilee, it would have been neither in Jewish nor in 
human nature, to have refused the bribe that would thus have 
been held out in the law itself for the establishment of slavery. 
Even in regard to Hebrew apprentices, it was so much more 
profitable to contract with them for the legal six years' serv- 
ice, than to hire by the day, or month, or year, that we are 
informed, Deuteronomy, xv. 18, tliat the nay, the servant of 
six years' apprenticeship, was worth double the price of the 
"Vby, the hired servant. This difference at length came to be 


felt so strongly, and operated with sucli intensity upon the 
growing greed of power and gain, that the Jewish masters 
attempted a radical revolution in the law. And what they 
would have done, had the law allowed, is proved by what they 
did attempt to do against the law, when they forced even 
Hebrew servants to remain with them as slaves; and be- 
cause .of this glaring iniquity and oppression, in defiance of 
the statute ordaining freedom for ever, they were given over 
of God to the sword, the famine, and the pestilence. The in- 
tention and attempt to establish slavery in the land constituted 
the crime for which, and the occasion on which, God's wrath 
became inexorable. There is no possibility of a mistake here. 
God's indictment was absolute, and we have already examined 
and compared the passages. 

The motive for this crime was profit and power ; and now 
it is clearly demonstrable that, if the people of Judea had had 
a race of human beings at their disposal, whom, by their own 
law, they could possess and use as slaves, chattels, property ; 
and if the law had marked off such a race for that purpose, 
and established such an element of superiority and of despot- 
ism in the native Hebrew nation, over such a race, consecrat- 
ed for their profit to such slavery — it is demonstrable that the 
Hebrews would not have degraded any of their own to such a 
state. It would have been quite a needless wickedness to set 
up slavery as a crime, if they had it already legalized as a 
necessary virtue. Their attempt to make slaves of the He- 
brews, is a demonstration that they were not permitted, by 
law, to make slaves of the heathen. 


The analogy of other statutes is in favor of this interpreta- 
tion, nay, requires it. This statute is a statute of liberty going 
seven-fold beyond any other ; intended to be as extraordinary 
in its jubilee of privileges, as a half century is extraordinary 
above a period of seven years. But already, by the force of 


other statutes, a septennial jubilee was assured to the He- 
brews ; the law would never permit a Hebrew to be held as 
an apprenticed servant more than six years ; in the seventh 
he should go free. Every seventh year was already a year of 
release to most of the inhabitants of the land, so that the fif- 
tieth year, if that jubilee was restricted to the Hebrews, 
would have been little more to them than the ordinary recur- 
rence of the septennial jubilee. What need or reason for sig- 
nalizing it, if it brought no greater joy, no greater gift of 
freedom, than every seventh year of release must necessarily 
bring? Hut it was a jubilee of seven-fold greater comprehen- 
siveness and blessing than all the rest ; and whereas the others 
were not designated or bestowed for all the inhabitants of the 
land, this teas ; and in this circumstance lay its emphasis and 
largeness of importance and of joy. 

This constituted its especial fitness as a prefiguration of the 
comprehensiveness and unconditional fullness of our deliver- 
ance and redemption by the gift of God's grace in Christ Je- 
sus. It was a jubilee, not for those favored classes only, who 
already had seven such jubilees secured to them bylaw during 
every fifty years, but for those also, who, otherwise, had no 
such gift bestowed upon them, and could look forward to no 
such termination of their servitude. It was a jubilee of per- 
sonal deliverance to all the inhabitants of the land, Hebrews 
or strangers, whatever might have been the tenure of their 
service. The servants apprenticed or hired, were all free to 
seek new masters, or to make new engagements, or none at 
all, according to their pleasure. The Hebrew land-owners 
were to return to the possessions of their fathers, "every man 
unto his possession, every man unto his family," Leviticus, xxv. 
10. But no man could carry his apprenticed servants, his 
B^sy, with him, or his hired servants, except on a new volun- 
tary contract ; for all the inhabitants of the land were free. 

The clause preceding this statute is an enactment concern- 
ing every seventh year, to be observed as a Sabbath of rest 


for the land, but not necessarily of release for the servants ; 
consequently, provision is made in the promise of sustenance 
through that year, " for thee, and for thy servant, ^r^y*:!), and 
for thy maid, ^MaNVn, and for thy hired servant, tp/'-sVV' all 
of each class, being supposed still with the family. But when 
the enactment of the fiftieth year as a year of rest is an- 
nounced, it being announced as a year of liberty for all the in- 
habitants of the land, nothing is again said of the servants of 
the family ; neither in regulations as to buying and selling, 
with reference to the proximity of the jubilee, is there any ex- 
ception made in regard to servants, as though they were not 
included in the freedom of the jubilee. But in regard to some 
things there are such exceptions stated, as in Leviticus, xv. 
30, of a house in a walled city, and verse 34, of the field of 
the Levites ; showing that, if any exception had been intend- 
ed in regard to servants, it must have been named. 


We come, next, to consider the phrase iVw trx-j?., proclaim 
liberty, announce deliverance. The strongest corresponding 
passage is Isaiah, Ixi. 1, to proclaim liberty to the captives, 
and the opening of the prison to them that are bound ; to 
proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. In this passage, it 
is called ys — hst», the year of acceptance, or of benefits, or, as 
it might be rendered, of discharge. In Ezekiel, xlvi. 17, it is 
called by the word with which the law is framed in Leviticus, 
nVv:i3 nsti, the year of liberty. And the passage in Ezekiel is 
emphatic in more respects than one. 1. It is a recognition 
of the year of jubilee at a late period in the history of the He- 
brews; it is :ilso a notice of a prince giving an inheritance to 
one of his servant*, l^asM iriKV, who might be, not a Hebrew; 
bat in the year of liberty, the servants were free, and the in 
heiitance returned to the original owner, or to one of his 
sons. 2. It is an incidental argument against the existence 
of slavery, when we find the servants made co-heirs with the 


sons. It can not be slaves who would be so ti-eated. 3. Eze- 
kiel's designation of the year of liberty corresponds with that 
of Isaiah, at a period more than a hundred years earlier. The 
allusion, in both prophets, to the jubilee, is unquestionable; 
and, in both, the grand designation of the year is that of a 
period of universal freedom. In Isaiah it is deliverance to cap- 
tives and prisoners, d^oxV. *v>w d^at^. Those that are 
bound, includes those under any servile apprenticeship ; but if 
any one should contend that it means slaves, then it is very 
clear that the jubilee was a year of deliverance to such, and 
therefore certainly applied to the heathen, inasmuch as among 
the Hebrews there were no slaves, and by law could be none. 
But if it was a year of freedom for heathen slaves, admitting 
they could be called such, then it was the complete extinction 
of slavery ; it was such a j)eriodical emancipation as abolished 
slavery uttei*ly and entirely, and rendered its establishment in 
the land impossible. 

Here we see the inconsistency of lexicographers and com- 
mentators between their own conclusions, when they assume 
that the jubilee was a year of deliverance to slaves, and at the 
same time restrict its emancipating operation to the Hebrews. 
For example, under the word i'i'w, we read in Gesenius the 
definition of the year of liberty, "ri"WJn n:», as " the year of de- 
liverance to slaves, namely, the year of jubilee.' 1 '' This is 
either assuming the Hebrews to be slaves, contrary to the 
well-known law which made this impossible, or, of necessity, it 
assumes and asserts the application of the law of jubilee to 
other classes, namely, of strangers and of the heathen ; and 
interprets that law (as, beyond all question, its phraseology 
demands) as applying to all the inhabitants of the land. The 
Septuagint version of the proclamation is, a<peatv em rijg yrjg 
Tract TOig KarotKovctv ain-nv, deliverance to all the inhabitants ; 
and the Septuagint version of Ezekiel, xlvi. 17, is, eravg rfjg 
d0t'(7ewc, the year of discharge or deliverance; and the He- 
brew for the year of jubilee, Va'.**] rw«j, is translated, in the 


same version, by erog rrjg d^ascjg and kviavrbc dfaoeoc;, the 
year of freeing, of discharging, of letting go. 

It is of little consequence whether the Hebrew appellation 
was adopted from the instrument, the species of trumpet, used 
in making the proclamation of the jubilee, or from the mean- 
ing of the root-word, from which the name of that instrument 
itself was derived. The Jubel-horn may have been a ram's 
horn, or a metallic trumpet. But the name, hz\\ to desig- 
nate, repeatedly, a jubilee, and Va'^n, the jubilee, and feato, 
in jubilee, and Vnv-n r*\p , the year of jubilee, besides the ex- 
pression, rwrt ?5'*a h:», the year of this jubilee, would lead us 
more naturally to the verb, feaj, to go, to fioio, to run, as the 
origin of the appellation, by its peculiar meaning of deliver- 
ance^ freedom, remission, a. flowing forth as a river. This is 
the more probable, because the appellation fcaV», jubilee, is not 
first given in connection with the blowing of the trumpet, but 
with the proclamation of liberty. When the forty-nine years 
are passed, "then shalt thou cause the trumpet of rejoicing to 
sound — in the day of atonement ye shall make the trumpet to 
sound," Leviticus, xxv. 9. The Hebrew, here, is not the trum- 
pet, VaV*, of jubilee, as might be supposed from our version, 
but, ns>nn yeit-, the trumpet of rejoicing or of shouting for 
joy. After this trumpet-sounding, comes the proclamation 
of liberty ; and then, first, we have the name jubilee. 

The Hebrew, in its connection, is full of meaning : 
bth rrrn air-. fesY« r^-i-i-V:^ y-xa "I'l" BhN*>i?s, and proclaim 
liberty throughout the land tinto all the inhabitants thereof: 
a jubilee it shall be unto you. 

The leading idea in the law is that of freedom from servi- 
tude, and the proclaiming clause is the proclamation of lib- 
erty ; and from that proclamation, and not from the enacting 
clauses immediately following, in regard to restitution of prop- 
erty and the return to patrimonial possessions, is the name 
of the jubilee taken. The trumpet of rejoicing shall sound, 
and ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and shall proclaim liberty 



to all the inhabitants of the land, and this shall be tour 
jubilee. And in the year of this jubilee ye shall return, 
every man, unto his possession. And so on with the detailed 
enactments of the law. It is manifest that this great year is 
called the jubilee from its ruling transaction of liberty : that 
joyful announcement in the proclamation gives it its reigning 
character : it would have been worth little or nothing without 
that. It was the breaking of every yoke, and the letting ot 
every man go free.'* 

* Ejtto's Cyclopedia, Article Ju- 
bilee. The law of jubilee was a con- 
tinual recognition of God's sovereign 
rights, and of the equality of the peo- 
ple one with another, in their de- 
pendence on him. These laws con- 
tinually did, what is needed to be done 
at intervals in the best constituted 
States, brought back the people and 
their constitution to the first princi- 
ples of liberty and equality. If, every 
fifty years, we could return where 
our fathers set out in the Revolution, 
there would be no more slavery. 

" These laws prevented vast accumu- 
lations, restrained cupidity, precluded 
domestic tyranny, and constantly re- 
minded rich and poor of their essen- 
tial equality in themselves, in the 
State, and before God. Equally be- 
nevolent in its aim and tendency doe3 
this institution appear, showing how 
thoroughly the great Hebrew legis- 
lator cared and provided for individu- 
als, instead of favoring classes." "War- 
burton adduced this law in proof of 
the divine legation of Moses. 


Specific Enactments of the Jubilee. — First Clause of Personal Liberty. — Ex- 
amination of the Hebrew Phrases. — Nature of the Jubilee Contract. — 
Manner of Treatment. — Mistakes of Commentators.— No Selling of Chil- 
dren for Debt Permitted by Law. — False Statement of Trench. — No Max 
Permitted to be Enslaved, or to Enslave Himself. 


The enacting clauses from Leviticus, xxv. 39-46, are occu- 
pied with the regulation of the treatment of such Hebrew and 
heathen servants respectively, as were bound to servitude 
until the jubilee. The Hebrew servants so bound were to be 
treated as hired servants, not as apprenticed servants ; but 
the heathen servants so bound might be employed as appren- 
ticed servants, and not as hired servants, up to the period of 
the jubilee. And always there was to be maintained this 
distinction ; for ever the quality of apprenticeship to the ju- 
bilee was to belong to the heathen, not to the Hebrews ; the 
heathen were to be the possession of the Hebrews and their 
posterity, as an inheritance or stock, from whom, and not ordi- 
narily from the Hebrews, they might provide themselves for 
such a length of time with apprenticed servants, as well as hired. 
Subject always to the law of freedom every fifty years, during 
that interval all their apprentices for longer than six years, 
all their servants obtained as apprentices till the jubilee, 
and to be treated as apprentices up to that time, and not as 
hired servants, were to be of the heathen, or the stranger, 
for ever, and not of the Hebrew. But every fiftieth year was 
a year of jubilee throughout the land for all the inhabitants 
thereof, Hebrew or heathen, all the inhabitants, of whatever 


class or station. The heathen apprenticed servant was not 
regarded, because obtained of the heathen, as on that ac- 
count not an inhabitant of the land ; on the contrary, this 
grand statute was evidently made additional to all the other 
statutes of relief and release, for the special benefit of all those 
whose case the other statutes would not cover. 

The chapter of laws in regard to the jubilee is occupied, 
first, with specific enactments as to the operation of the ju- 
bilee on the distribution or restoration of personal posses- 
sions; secondly, with similar specific enactments as to per- 
sonal liberty. It is necessary to separate the respective 
clauses in regard to liberty, and to analyze them with great 


The first clause is from verse 39 to 43 inclusive. We 
quote it in our common version, because it is essential at this 
point to remark the false sense put upon the law by the use 
of the English word bondmen, assumed as meaning slaves. 
The effect of this construction is like that of loading dice, or 
of forging an additional cipher to a ten pound note, making 
it worth, apparently, instead of 10 a 100. The clause is as 
follows: "If thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen 
poor, and be sold unto thee, thou shalt not compel him to 
serve as a bond-servant, but as an hired servant, and as a 
sojourner he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the 
year of jubilee ; and then shall he depart from thee, he and 
his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, 
and unto the possessions of his fathers shall he return. For 
they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land 
of Egypt ; they shall not be sold as bondmen. Thou shalt 
not rule over him with rigor, but shalt fear thy God." 

We must examine the Hebrew, phrase by phrase. In the 
first verse, be waxen floor, and be sold unto thee, ^ — iMs;-. I]*^, 
wax poor, and sell himself unto thee. Beyond all cmestion, 


the translation of n=*:i, Nipbal, of lifc (the word here used 
for selling), should be, sell himself. 1. JSfiphal, as reflexive 
of Ifal, admits it ; 2. The context requires it ; 3. In the 
47th verse the translators have so rendered it, if thy brother 
sell himself unto the stranger, the Hebrew word and form 
being precisely the same, "is*??. The context requires it, 
because, being a Hebrew, he could not be sold by another ; 
it is poverty on account of which he sells himself, and he is 
not sold for debt or for crime ; and if any master had pos- 
sessed the power to sell him, his waxing poor would not have 
been the reason. His waxing poor is the reason for selling 
himself, or, in other words, apprenticing himself, until the 
year of jubilee; and by law, no being but himself had this 
power over him, or could make such a contract. And it was 
perfectly voluntary on his part, a transaction which he en- 
tered into for his own convenience and relief. 


The next Hebrew phrase respects the manner in which the 
master to whom he had thus hired himself was to treat him ; 
it was a proviso guarding and protecting the poor servant 
from a despotic and cruel exercise of authority. It is trans- 
lated, Thou shall not compel Mm to serve as a bond-servant ; 
but the Hebrew is simply as follows : nhjir— kV iss rnas. u .a, 
thou shall not impose upon him the service of a sen-ant, that 
is, the hard work of a servant, who, not being engaged vttos, 
as a hired servant, by the day or the year, for a particular 
service, could be set to any work without any new contract 
or additional wages. As we have clearly seen, there is no 
term nor phrase in the Hebrew language to signify what we 
mean by the words slave, bondman, or bond-servant ; and 
there was no law in the Hebrew legislation which permitted 
any Hebrew to be, or to be treated as, slave, bondman, or 
bond-servant. But a poor man, making a general contract 
of his services till the jubilee, might be cruelly treated by his 


master, "when there had been some proviso specifying and 
limiting the power and the manner. Therefore, when it is 
said, Thou shalt not impose upon him the service of a servant 
(that is, an ta?, hired as a servant of all work), it is imme- 
diately added, As a hired servant and as a sojourner he shall 
he with thee, Jpe» n.-rv T»Sfcs ; and this phrase is explan- 
atory of the other, and introduced to make the other specific 
and indubitable in its meaning. The freedom and indepen- 
dence of a hired servant and a sojourner were guaranteed to 
the Hebrew servant, although he had engaged to be with his 
master as an "ts», until the jubilee. 

The proviso is then introduced for his return with his chil- 
dren to the possession of his fathers in the year of jubilee ; 
and, last of all, it is repeated again (verse 42) that they shall 
not sell themselves with the selling of a servant, an -iss, and 
the master should not rule over him with rigor, but should 
fear the Lord. 


Here we can not but notice the extreme carelessness with 
which, for want of examination of the Hebrew and the con- 
text, and in consequence, also, of taking for granted the pre- 
conceived opinions on this subject, as if slavery among the 
Hebrews were a thing not to be doubted, some able writers 
have fallen into very gross errors. As an example, we find in 
Trench's work on the Parables the following assertion : " That 
it was allowed under the Mosaic law to sell an insolvent 
debtor is implicitly stated, Leviticus, xxv 39 ; and verse 41 
makes it probable that his family also came into bondage with 
him ; and we find allusion to the same custom in other places 
(2 Kings, iv. 1 ; Nehemiah, v. 6 ; Isaiah, i. 1 ; lviii. 6 ; Jeremiah, 
xxxiv. 8-11 ; Amos, ii. 6, viii. 6)."* Singular indeed that this 
writer should call Leviticus, xxv. 39, an implicit statement that 
by the laws of Moses it Avas allowed to sell an insolvent debtor, 
* Trench : Notes on the Parables, p. 127. 


when there is no reference whatever in the passage or the chap- 
ter to any such law, or to any sale for debt, nor any intimation 
that any such thing was possible ! The references to the pas- 
sages in illustration are instances of mistakes equally gross ; but, 
as we have before considered those passages, we shall revert to 
only one, that in 2 Kings, iv. 1, because it is often perverted. 
There is, in that passage, no mention of any sale, nor any intima- 
tion of it ; but it is said, " The creditor has come to take unto 
him my two sons to be servants (di-ri-V)." That is, has come 
demanding that my two sons be put to service till they Avork 
out the debt ; further than this there is no demand ; and as 
to any law for the sale of the debtor, it .exists only in the 
imagination of the writer ; there was no such law nor per- 
mission. But thus carelessly and frequently have assertions 
been made and reiterated, of which, if any student wishes to 
be convinced, let him turn to Home's Introduction, to the 
chapter on the condition of slaves and servants, and the cus- 
toms relating to them. He will find, on a single page, almost 
as many mistakes and misstatements as there are lines; all 
proceeding from the first false assumption, taken up without 
investigation, that all the servitude in the Old Testament was 
slavery, and that, wherever the word servant occurs, it means 
slave. These statements have been repeated so often, that 
they have come to be regarded as truisms, and, by possession 
and reiteration, are in many minds impregnable. 

The implicit statement Mr. Trench might have found to be, 
on comparing verse 42 with verse 39, that they shall not be 
sold with the selling of bondmen : " Thou shalt not compel 
him to serve as a bond-servant ;" and, in the original, he 
might have found that it is the sale of the man by himself 
which is referred to, and under such circumstances as would 
put him in a condition, from being entirely poor, of so great 
improvement as to be able himself to buy back his contract 
in a short time. The making of the contract of his services, 
for a specified time, was said to be the selling of himself; and 


the securing a right, by contract, to those services, was the 
buying of a servant. 


Even Michaelis, who applies the word slave to the Hebrew 
six years' servant, thereby showing that he does not mean 
slave, but a voluntary hired laborer, admits that he can point 
out no such law in the Mosaic institutes as a law authorizing 
the sale of men, women or children for debt.* On the con- 
trary, this was an outrage against law, against both the spirit 
and letter of the law. This is proved from Nehemiah, v. 5, 8, 
where the nobles and the rulers are accused by Nehemiah of 
having sanctioned and committed this very oppression ; and 
he sets a great assembly against them, and arraigns them for 
the crime. His argument plainly is, that their procedure is 
contrary to the law of God, for he says, It is not good that 
ye do ; ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God ? And it 
is added, that they did not attempt to excuse or justify them- 
selves. Then they held their peace, and found nothing to an- 
swer. The exaction of usury was put along with this crime. 

Now if it had been enjoined in the divine law, or permitted, 
that a man's children could be sold as slaves for the parent's 
debt, then nobles, rulers and usurers would not have remained 
quiet under this accusation, would not have failed to justify 

* Michaelis, Commentaries, Article proofs, which, on examination, incon- 
148, vol. ii. This celebrated scholar trovertibly prove the contrary. In 
was one of the earliest writers on the the Bibliotheca Sacra for 1856, in an 
Old Testament who used the word article on 1: Aliens in Israel," the writ- 
slave to indicate the nature of the do- er declares that one of the kinds of 
mestic service among the Hebrews ; service among the Hebrews was " ab- 
but after him there was a deluge, and solute and hereditary slavery," and 
to this day, professedly critical writ- that "foreigners could purchase He- 
ers reiterate the assertion that the brew slaves," and " Hebrews foreign 
Hebrews held slaves, and refer to slaves," and among other authorities, 
Michaelis for their proof, but not to appeals to Michaelis and the Mishna 1 
the Scriptures. They axe also in the This amazing carelessness has become 
habit of asserting the existence of a habit. But see, for its correction 
slavery, and referring to passages as Saalschutz, Da9 Mosaisclie Recht* 

Vol. II., 1U, etc. 


themselves by law. But they did no such thing, simply be- 
cause they could not ; they knew that their oppressive proced- 
ures were contrary to the divine law. Moreover, it is singu- 
larly in point, and interesting to note, that certain articles of 
property were forbidden to be taken for debt, under any cir- 
cumstances, Exodus, xxii. 26, Deuteronomy, xxiv. G, among 
which were a man's outer garment or coat, and the upper and 
nether millstones ; articles of such necessity to personal com- 
fort and the subsistence of the household, that it was not per- 
mitted on any account to take them away or sell them. Now 
it is impossible that a man's coat should be regarded as dearer 
to him or more sacredly in his possession than his children ; 
that a law should be framed forbidding his garments and his 
household furniture from being attached by the sheriff, but at 
the same time permitting the creditor to take his children ; 
a law permitting a poor widow to keep in her house the upper 
and nether millstones, and a change of raiment, but not her 
own children ; a law preventing the creditor from taking away 
her household utensils, but allowing him to sell her children, 
for whose sake alone her furniture was valuable to hei*, and by 
whose help alone she could obtain corn to grind between the 
millstones. She could have pounded corn on an emergency 
with common stones, but nothing could supply the place of 
her children ; and to supjDOse that a divine law could, at one 
and the same time, allow her children to be sold by an op- 
pressive creditor as slaves, while under the plea of kindness it 
would not permit the same oppressor to take her household 
furniture from her, is to suppose an absurdity, is to fasten an 
inconsistency and rejn-oach upon a divine revelation too crude 
and monstrous to be entertained for a moment. 

A man that supposed he was commenting upon a divine 
revelation would be restrained from such heedless assertions ; 
but when the Scriptures fall into the hands of men that have 
no more belief in their divine inspiration than they have in 
that of the laws of Lycurgus or the poems of Homer, and the 


commentaries and theological decisions of such men are allowed 
to direct the opinions of the church, and set the style and 
current of theological literature, there is no error or contra- 
diction, the prevalence of which can he a subject of astonish- 
ment. Mistakes, absurdities, and even injustice and impiety, 
may come to he installed and maintained as articles of divine 
inspiration. Where would be the vaunted benevolence and 
wisdom of the Mosaic laws, where the proof of their having 
come from God, if such monstrous abominations of cruelty 
as those necessary for the support and sanction of the sys- 
tem of human slavery were found, permitted, or enjoined in 

Now let it be remembered, in connection with the case be- 
fore us, how explicit and benevolent was the divine statute in 
Exodus, xxii. 22, 23, also Deuteronomy, xxiv. 16, 17: "Ye 
shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou 
afflict them in any wise, and they cry unto me at all, I will 
surely hear their cry. Thou shalt not pervert the judgment 
of the stranger nor the fatherless, nor take the widow's rai- 
ment to pledge." It is not to be imagined for a moment that 
though the usurer or the creditor was forbidden from taking 
the widow's raiment, he might take her children and sell them 
for slaves, leaving her hopeless and desolate. If children were 
not permitted to be punished for the father's sins, much more, 
most certainly, would they not be permitted to be sold as 
slaves, as merchandise, for their father's debts. 

But the thing was impossible on still another ground. At 
the end of every seven years, the creditor was compelled to 
make a release, and could not exact the bond, but it was null 
and void. At the same time, in that seventh year, every serv- 
ant was released and free, on whatever grounds apprenticed. 
This was the universal, fundamental law, interwoven in the 
very texture of the Jewish constitution, and no custom or pro- 
cedure was permitted contrary to it. How then can any man 
imagine that such a cruelty as the selling of a widow's children 


by the creditor into slavery for debt could be permissible under 
this law ? It could be possible only by the direct violation 
of it. Deuteronomy, xv. 1, 2, 9, 12. The statutes of Omri and 
Ahab, the express subjects of the divine reprobation, and for- 
bidden to be obeyed, may have included such wickedness. It 
was under the dominion of their tyranny that the incident in 
2 Kings, iv. 1, is reported as having taken place. But what- 
ever the transaction there intended, there was nothing of 
slavery in it, nor, by the Jewish law, could there possibly be 
any approximation thereto. The woman, by direction of Elisha, 
sold the oil, and paid the creditor, but she was not permitted 
to sell her children, nor indeed is there in the original any in- 
timation of any such possibility, the utmost of the danger 
there stated being just this, namely, that her dead husband's 
creditor had come to take her two sons to be to him for serv- 
ants, that is, to work out, by their service, the amount of 
debt, but not to be sold in any way. But even for this there 
was no law ; it is wholly a conjecture of the commentators, 
and can nowhere be pointed out. 

On the contrary, in Job, xxiv. 9, the taking of the father- 
less child from the mother, and, as Michaelis translates it, the 
child of the needy for a pledge, is set down as an act of mon- 
strous wickedness, along with other similar piratical crimes, as 
the removing of land-marks, stealing of sheep, killing the poor 
and needy, and rebelling against the light. The crime of child- 
stealing is here catalogued along with that of compelling men 
to labor without wages, and that also of murder and adultery, 
and the whole description is of the character and habits of 
kidnappers and slaveholders in defiance of God's law. 



Here again, Leviticus, xxv. 42, the common version trans- 
lates as follows: They shall not be sold as bondmen, although 
the verb is the same, and the form is the same (Niphal of itto) 


as in verse 39, and afterward 47, where it is rendered sell him- 
self. But the Hebrew is simple and clear, nas rnste.B fi-ft" 1 . n>, 
they shall not sell themselves the selling of a servant, that is, 
an nss of unlimited contract, and of all work. This phrase, 
las n-rwtt, is nowhere else employed. It seems to denote a 
venal transaction, as in regard to a piece of goods, or a thing 
over which the buyer and the seller have the supreme power. 
Such a transaction would have been, in reference to a human 
being, a slave trade ; and such a transaction in regard to a hu- 
man being, was absolutely and expressly forbidden. The He- 
brew people were God's property, and God's servants, and 
they should never sell themselves, nor be sold, as the prop- 
erty of others. Not only was this transaction forbidden to 
any one for another, and to any two for any third party, but 
to every one for himself. No man was permitted or had the 
right, to enslave himself. The voluntary hiring of himself to 
a Hebrew master, or even to a stranger, as we shall see, to 
the year of jubilee, was not slavery, nor any approximation 
thereto. And to prevent the possibility of its ever passing 
into slavery, the proviso was inserted, making it a crime to 
apprentice themselves, or to be apprenticed beyond a limited 

It is very plain, therefore, that the words bond-servant and 
bondman are a wrong and very unfortunate translation, be- 
cause they convey inevitably, to an English ear, a meaning 
wholly different from that of the original. They seem to 
recognize slavery, where no such thing is to be found. By 
the central, fundamental law, which we have already exam- 
ined, no Hebrew could be made to serve as a bond-servant 
or bondman, under any circumstances, but only as an appren- 
ticed servant for six years. The object, therefore, of the en- 
acting clause which we have now examined was simply this, 
namely, that if he became so poor as to be obliged to enter 
into a contract for service till the year of jubilee, he should 
not be held, even during that time, as an apprenticed serv- 


ant merely, but as a hired servant and sojourner. And if 
the question recurs, In what particular as a hired servant 
and a sojourner? the answer is plain: First, in respect to 
specific labor, in contradistinction from the obligation of the 
servant of all work. The hired servant and the sojourner 
could contract for themselves in some particular service, and 
could not be commanded to any other without a new agree- 
ment ; the servant of all work was of an inferior condition, em- 
ployed for any labor whatever of which his master might have 
need, or for which he might require him. Secondly, in re- 
spect to appointed wages at specific times, which wages must 
be continued, although the contract of service was till the year 
of jubilee; and this in contradistinction from the condition of 
the servant whose purchase-money, or the payment of his 
services and time, for whatever period engaged, was all given 
to himself at the outset, and who could, consequently, after- 
wards have no claim for any thing more. We have already 
illustrated this distinction in the consideration of Job, vii. 2, 
where the servant, the "iss, who had already received his 
money for his time and services, beforehand, according to the 
ordinary six years' contract, earnestly desireth the shadoic, but 
the hired servant, the "vsto, looks for his wages, desires his 
wages, which are the result of his accomplishing as an hireling 
his day. No servant, or "ra», served without payment for his 
work ; but the ordinary isy had received his payment before- 
hand, or when the contract was made; and the distinctive 
meaning of that word excluded the idea of periodical wages 
after the work was done. 

Once more, we must remark on this clause the provision in 
regard to the Hebrew servant, for himself and his children. 
It presents a case in which, being hired until the jubilee, he 
might have children born to him during his period of service 
as contracted for. These children were born in his master's 
house, in his master's family, but they belonged to himself, 
not to his master. They were not slaves, and could not be, 


any more than himself. Yet they were examples of the 
rrn "»■»!>?, the bom in the house, as in Abraham's family, and the 
trained ones, as in his household, and t^s— »sa, the sotis of the 
house, as in Ecclesiastes, ii. 7. They were not bondmen, and 
could not be made such, or held as such, but by law were free. 
The fact of their being born in the house of their master while 
their father was in his service did not give the master the 
least claim upon them as his servants, Avithout a separate vol- 
untary contract, or payment for their services. All were born 
free, and their freedom could not be taken from them, neither 
could they be made servants at the will of the master alone ; 
nor could the father sell them, though he might apprentice them 
for a season, yet never beyond the period assigned by law.* 


This being the case, it is greatly to be regretted that our 
translators, for want of an English word which would express 
the difference between a hired servant, the T>sto, and an ap- 
prenticed servant of all work, the iay ; and also for want of a 
word answering to the extremest meaning of the same word 
iny, which neve)' meant among the Hebrews a slave, should 
have taken the words bond-servant and bondman, as well as 
the word servant, to translate the same Hebrew word for 
servant, giving it thus a meaning which it can not bear in the 
original, and at different times meanings directly opposite. 

* Blackstone's Commentaries on ing for its similarity with that of serv- 

the Laws of England, vol. L, p. 425. ants among the Hebrews. It might 

— This great writer describes three with just as much propriety be as- 

classes of servants, acknowledged by serted that the intra mania servants 

the laws of England. First menial in England were slaves, as that the 

servants, so called from being intra sons of the household in Judea were 

mcenia, or domestics ; second, appren- slaves. The domestics in Judge 

tices, so called from apprendre, to learn, Blackstone's own family could be 

usually bound for a term of years ; proved to have been slaves by the 

third, laborers, who are hired by the same method in which those in the 

day or the week, and do not live intra famUy of Abraham have been as- 

moenia, as part of the family. sumcd as such. 

The classification here is very strik- 



We have before noted some of the reasons why they took 
this course ; as, for example, because the unpaid servitude 
into which the Hebrews were compelled in Egypt is designated 
by n^y rnh?. ; and it is said, Remember that thou icast an nay 
in Egypt. Our translators said, Remember that thou wast a 
bondman in Egypt ; but truly the word would have been 
more fully rendered by the phrase an oppressed servant, 
because, as we have seen, the Hebrews were not slaves in 
Egypt, were not held as such ; a fact which makes God's pro- 
hibiting of the Hebrews from laying the same oppressive serv- 
itude upon others much more significant. This bond-service 
they were forbidden by law from imposing upon their own 
servants, who never were, and never could be, what in com- 
mon usage Ave understand by the word bondmen. 

But seeing the word repeatedly used to describe a class of 
servants among the Hebrews, what other conclusion can the 
mere English reader adopt, unless he goes into a very critical 
comparison of passages, than that such servants were slaves ? 
Yet the very word thus translated is the word used for na- 
tive Hebrew servants, who sometimes, as this law of jubilee 
under consideration proves, were held in servitude just as long 
as any servants of the heathen or of strangers could be, that 
is, until the jubilee, but could not, under any circumstances, 
be slaves. We have sometimes admitted the word bondman 
as the translation of nay, in our argument, to describe the rig- 
orous rule which the Hebrews were forbidden from using in 
regard to their servants ; but it is inapplicable as the true 
translation of the word, whether the servants designated are 
Hebrew or adopted heathen. 

We might suppose that our translators had followed the 
Septuagint translation ; but the Septuagint frequently uses 
Ttdlc where the English version uses bondman, for the same 
word nay ; as, for example, Deuteronomy, xxviii. 68 : Ye shall 
be sold for bondmen and bondwomen, Septuagint, TraiSag teal 
Txaidionae, Hebrew, ri'Visc^i dtnay. In Deuteronomy, xxiii. 15 : 


TIiou shall not deliver unto his master the servant who hath 
escaped, the English version and the Septuagint agree, and 
the word is translated servant and -rzalda, for the Hebrew -.29. 
But in Deuteronomy, xv. 15 : "Remember that thou wast a 
bondman in Egypt," the same Hebrew word is translated 
bondman, and Septuagint oIkettjc. The same in Deuteron- 
omy, vi. 21. But now in Leviticus, xxv. 55, the same Hebrew 
word is translated by the Septuagint, in the same verse, both 
olaerai, and Traldeg, but in our English version, servants, not 
bondmen. Singular then it is, that in Leviticus, xxv. 44, Both 
thy bondmen and thy bondmaids, ^Mes*5 Spaa^, is translated by 
the Septuagint Kal txoic teal natdiaKr], and precisely the same 
words at the close of the same verse are translated dovXov nal 

This use of terms by the Septuagint translators proves, as 
we shall see in the argument from the New' Testament, that 
the occurrence of the Greek words for slave does not neces- 
sarily indicate slavery, they having been applied, by very com- 
mon usage, to describe servants, of whom it is known posi- 
tively that they were free, and never had been, and could not 
possibly be, at any time, slaves. Just so the Greek term for 
slavery is applied to a service which is known to have been a 
free service, proving that no argument can be instituted for 
the existence of slavery, merely from the use of that term. 
The person called a dovlog may have been a free servant, and 
the service called dovXeia may have been a voluntary, free, 
paid contract.* 

* Josephus, Antiq., B. 3, Ch. xii., the sale of a Hebrew to the stock of 
Sect. 3, and B. 16, Ch. i., furnish in- the stranger's family. For an exam- 
stances of the usage of dovlevu and pie of the unauthorized use of terms, 
dovleiav for free service. In the first and of error thereby perpetuated, see 
of these cases Josephus uses the Michaelis, Laws of Moses, Vol. II., 
phrase employed in lev. xxv., 47, Art. 115. " Whoever devoted him- 
though of the same stock, that is, the self to God became a slave of the 
native Hebrew stock. It illustrates sanctuary 1" ' 
the meaning of what is described as 


Second Clause op Personal Liberty. — Servants op Strangers. — Septuagint Trans- 
lation op the Verse. — Manner in which the Hebrews Might Obtain Serv- 
ants of the Heathen. — Third Clause op Personal Liberty. — Recruiting 
Classes for Servants. — Impossible to Make Them Slaves. — Oppression of 
Them Forbidden. 


This verse, Leviticus, xxv. 44, constitutes the second clause, 
as to personal liberty, in the law of jubilee. The English 
translation is, Both thy bondmen and thy bondmaids, which 
thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about 
you • of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. We 
must compare this with the Hebrew in full, and the Hebrew 
with the Septuagint, and we shall see an important difference 
from the true meaning of the original. The Hebrew is as follows : 

riEso nay sspp, literally, And thy man-servants, and thy 
maid-servants, which shall be to you from among the na- 
tions that are round about you, of them shall ye obtain man- 
servant and maid-servant. 

The meaning of this, at first sight, would seem to be : he 
shall be permitted to obtain (or purchase, according to the 
Hebrew idiom for a contract made with a servant), from as 
many servants as may be with you, from among the nations 
round about you, men-servants, and maid-servants, or, the 
man-servant and the maid-servant. The Hebrew construction 
does not read, that " ye shall purchase of the nations that are 
round about you," but, " of the servants that have come to 
you from among those nations." Ye may take such as your 


servants, making with them such contracts of service as you 

But this being a proviso under the law of jubilee, the refer- 
ence naturally is to contracts of service until the year of jubi- 
lee. It might possibly have been argued or imagined, from 
such laws as that in Deuteronomy, xxiii. 15, 16, concerning 
servants that had escaped from their masters, that it was not 
permitted to take the heathen servants for apprentices, or to 
put them under contract until the year of jubilee. This law 
gives such a permission. It can not mean that your men- 
servants and your maid-servants thus legally bound, shall be 
only of the heathen ; for the preceding clause is an enact- 
ment respecting the treatment of the Hebrew servants so 
bound ; nor is it imperative, as if it had been said, " Of them 
only, ye shall buy bondmen and bondmaids," or, "Ye shall 
have your bondmen and bondmaids (using our version) only 
from the heathen." But the statute is permissive — ye may ; 
it is allowed you by law to make what contracts of service 
you please, with servants from the heathen, or the nations 
round about you, limited only by the law of jubilee. 

Now, that this is the meaning of this clause, is rendered 
somewhat clearer by the Septuagint translation of this 44th 
verse : Kal iralg teal TraidtoKT] oaot dv y£vG)vrai ooi, d~b tgjv 
idvojv oool kvkX(x> gov elalv an' avruiv KTrjoecrde dovXov ical 
6ovXr]v, literally, " And servant, and maid-servant, as many as 
there may be to you from the nations round about you, from 
them shall you procure bondman and bondwoman." We use 
the words bondman and bondwoman, not because dovXov, and 
dovXrjv, necessarily mean that and that only, but to preserve 
the contrast manifest in the Septuagint translation of this 
verse. Now it seems clear that the Septuagint translators 
have conveyed the literal construction of the Hebrew, except 
only in the use of these latter words, more truly than our 
English translators. But we do not insist upon this, as if it 
were in the least degree essential to the argument ; for it 


makes very little difference whether the law says, " Ye may 
procure from the nations round ahout you, servants and men- 
servants," or, " Ye may procure from as many servants as may 
come to your country from the nations, your men-servants and 
maid-servants." The contract in either case was of voluntary 
service, and not involuntary servitude or slavery. 

This law gave no Hebrew citizen the power or the privilege 
(even if it could have been considered a privilege, which it 
was not), of going forth into a heathen country and buying 
slaves, or of laying hold on any heathen servants and compell- 
ing them to pass from heathen into Hebrew bondage. But 
it did give permission to obtain servants, on a fair and volun- 
tary contract, from among them, limiting, at the same time, 
the longest term of such service by the recurrence of the ju- 
bilee. Such permission by statute was not only expedient, and 
for the sake of the heathen, benevolent, but circumstances 
made it necessary. 


The heathen round about Judea were idolatrous nations. 
Now the Hebrews were so defended and forbidden by law 
from entering, with the Canaanitish tribes especially, into any 
treaties of fellowship and commerce, of relationship and inter- 
course, socially or otherwise, that there seemed a necessity 
of inserting this article in regard to servants, as an exception. 
The Hebrews might obtain servants of the heathen, might 
employ them as servants of all work, and by the longest con- 
tract. They were thus prepared for freedom, and made free. 
But as to making slaves of them, there could be no such thing; 
there was no such sufferance or permission. There were no 
slave-marts in Israel, nor any slave-traders, nor slave-procur- 
ers, nor go-bcttceens of traffic in human flesh. The land of 
Canaan itself was given to the Hebrews for a possession, but 
never the inhabitants, nor the inhabitants of heathen nations 
round about them. 


How then should Hebrew householders or families get 
possession of heathen servants as slaves ? Who, at liberty to 
choose, would bind himself and his posterity to interminable 
slavery ? Even supposing it possible for Hebrew masters to 
make such a foray into a heathen neighborhood, and bind a 
heathen bondman as their slave, and bring him into Judea for 
that purpose ; at the moment of his transfer into Judea, he 
came under all the protective and liberating provisions of 
the Hebrew law ; he was encircled with the safeguards and 
privileges of religion, and was brought into the household 
and congregation of the Lord ; he could flee from an unjust 
master ; and no tribe, city, or house in Judea was permitted 
to arrest or bring him back as a fugitive, or to opjjress him, 
but all were commanded to give him shelter and to protect 
his rights. 

The whole body of the Hebrew laws, as we have examined 
them, demonstrates the impossibility of importing slavery into 
Judea from the heathen nations round about the Hebrews. 
It is monstrous to attempt to put such a construction as the 
establishment of perpetual bondage upon the clause in the law 
of jubilee under consideration. The respective position of the 
Jews and the nations round about them, renders this construc- 
tion impossible. But the language itself forbids it. It is not 
said, " The heathen are given to you for slaves, and ye may 
take them and make bondmen of them ;" which is the con- 
struction put by the advocates and defenders of slavery upon 
this passage; but, " Ye may procure for yourselves servants, 
from among the servants that may be with you from the na- 
tions round about you," upp dn»a, from them ye may obtain, 
not, them ye may take. If the word be translated purchase, 
or buy, then, as we have clearly demonstrated, it means no 
more than an equivalent paid for services to be rendered dur- 
ing a period specified in the contract. Nothing more than 
this can possibly be drawn from this clause. 



We pass then to the third clause, contained in the 45th 
and 46th verses, in our common version rendered as follows : 
" Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn 
among yon, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that 
are with you, which they begat in your land ; and they shall 
be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance 
for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession ; 
they shall be your bondmen for ever." Here this clause, in 
the original, stops, and the next passes to a wholly different 
subject, the treatment of Hebrew servants bound to service 
till the year of jubilee. But in our version this clause is made 
to take up what seems, more accurately, to be a part of the 
next, and verse 46 is completed with the following paragraph, 
as if it belonged to the preceding and not the succeeding 
clause : " But over your brethren, the children of Israel, ye 
shall not rule one over another with rigor." There is nothmg 
in the construction that forbids this connection, but the con- 
text, as we shall see, would seem rather to appropriate this to 
the next following clause. 

The class here marked as the recruiting class for servants for 
the Hebrews, consists of the children of descendants of sojourn- 
ing strangers, and of their tamilies begotten in Judea. The 
Hebrews might obtain of them servants, whose service was 
purchased on such a contract that, up to the year of jubilee, it 
lasted from generation to generation as a fixture of the house- 
hold ; the claim upon such service, by the original agreement 
or terms of purchase, constituted a possession and inheritance, 
from the parents who had made the bargain to the children 
for whom, until the jubilee, it was made. That this was a vol- 
untary contract on the part of the servants, and that it did 
not and could not involve any approximation to what Ave 
call slavery, nor constitute them bondmen, an examination of 
their condition by law, as a class of inhabitants, will clearly show. 



Two classes are clearly defined in the two clauses of the 
law now under consideration, the second clause contained in 
verse 44, and the third clause in verses 45 and 46. The first 
class was of the nations surrounding the Hebrew territory, in 
our translation, the heathen round about. But because they 
were heathen, they were not therefore the selected and ap- 
pointed objects and subjects of oppression ; the Hebrews were 
not, on that account, at liberty to treat them with injustice 
and cruelty, or to make them articles of merchandise. Nay, 
they were commanded to treat them kindly. The fact that 
many of them were hired servants, proves incontestably that 
they were never given to the Hebrews as slaves, and that no 
Hebrew master could go forth and purchase any of them as 
such. They could not possibly be bought without their own 
consent ; and, in thus selling their services, they could make 
their own terms of contract. The 44th verse can not pos- 
sibly mean a purchase of slaves from third parties, but only 
the purchase of the labor of free servants, that is, the acqui- 
sition of service rendered by voluntary contract, for a specified 
consideration paid to the person thus selling his services for a 
particular time. There is no definition of the time. There is 
no qualification in this clause giving the right to hold heathen 
servants in any longer term of bondage or servitude than He- 
brew servants ; there is no permission of this kind in regard 
to the heathen that icere round about them, there is no line of 
distinction, making slaves of the heathen, and free servants of 
the Hebrews. 

How could there be ? # The fugitive slaves from heathen 
masters were free by Hebrew law, the moment they touched 
the Hebrew soil. The heathen households, or families that 
remained among the Hebrews, or came over into their land, 
were to be received into the congregation of the Lord, after 
the process of an appointed naturalization law, and, when so 



received, were in every respect on a footing of equality with 
the natives as to freedom and religious privileges. How then 
could such families, or their servants, be a possession of slaves ? 
The children begotten of the Edomites and Egyptians, for ex- 
ample, were to enter into the congregation of the Lord in the 
third generation. 

The children of Jarha, the Egyptian, the servant of Sheshan 
a Hebrew, were immediately reckoned in the course of She- 
shan's genealogy, 1 Chronicles, ii. 34, 35. Ruth, the Moabit- 
ess, was immediately received as one of God's people, and 
Boaz purchased her to be his wife. He could not, because 
she was a heathen,* have taken her to be his slave. Nor could 
any heathen families, coming into the Hebrew country, engage 
in a slave-traffic, or set up a mart for the supply of slaves to 
the Hebrews. In the Hebrew land they could no longer have 
slaves of their own ; for by the law of God, as plain and incon- 
trovertible as any of the ten commandments thundered upon 
Sinai, a heathen slave was free, if he chose to quit his master : 
no master could retain him a moment, but by his own con- 
sent. Much less, then, could such families have had slaves for 
sale. The Hebrews could have no heathen servant, but by 
contract with the servants themselves ; and that renders what 
we call slavery impossible. 


But if this were impossible in regard to servants coming 
to the Hebrews from the heathen round about Judea, much 
more in regard to the second class, namely, the children and 
families of the stranger sojourning in Israel, and their poster- 
ity. This sojourning was a voluntary and an honorable thing. 
And their condition was better ascertained, defined, and se- 
cured than that of the class named in verse 44. They were 
families of proselytes. They could not be tolerated in the 
country at all, except on condition of renouncing their idola- 
try, and entering into covenant to keep the law of God. They 


had entered into the congregation of the Lord, or would have 
done so before a single jubilee could be half way in progress. 
In regard to this class, as also the other, express laws were 
passed in their favor, protecting and defending them. Their 
rights were guaranteed by statute. They were as free as the 
Hebrews, and wei'e to be treated as freemen. They had the 
same appeal to the laws, and the judges were commanded, 
Deuteronomy, i. 16 : "Hear the causes between your breth- 
ren, and judge righteously between man and his brother, and 
the stranger that is with him," tDiN—'pa \-\z "pw vhx- pia, between 
man, and his brother, and his stranger. They entered into 
the same covenant with God at the outset, Deuteronomy, xxix. 
10-13 : "All the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, 
and thy stranger fa"^ ) that is in thy camp, from the hewer 
of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water, that thou should- 
est enter into covenant," etc., — "that he may establish thee for 
a people unto himself" And again, Deuteronomy, xxxi. 12, 
13 : " Gather the people, men, women, and children, and thy 
stranger (spjjl), that is within thy gates, that they, and their 
children may hear, and learn, and fear." 

The Sabbath, and all the many and joyful religious festivals, 
with all the privileges of the people of God in them, were 
theirs to observe and enjoy. The greatest and most careful 
benevolence was enjoined toward them. " Thou shalt neither 
vex a stranger nor oppress him, for ye were strangers in the 
land of Egypt," Exodus, xxii. 21. " Cursed be he that per- 
verteth the judgment of the stranger," was one among the 
twelve curses, Deuteronomy, xxvii. 19. In the very chapter 
next preceding this chapter of the law of jubilee, it is enacted, 
that " ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the 
stranger as for one of your own country ; for I am the Lord 
your God," Leviticus, xxiv. 22. These injunctions were en- 
forced in various forms, and with much emphasis and repeti- 
tion. "The Lord your God loveth the stranger; love ye 
therefore the stranger, for ye were strangers in the land of 


Egypt," Deuteronomy, x. 17, IS, 19. "Thus saith the Lord, 
execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the 
spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, and do no wrong, do 
no violence to the stranger," Jeremiah, xxii. 3. If, in defiance 
of these statutes and precepts, they had attempted to bring 
the strangers into subjection as slaves and articles of property, 
on the ground that they were heathen, it would have been re- 
garded as man-stealing, and any single case of such crime 
would have been punished with death. 


In Isaiah, Ixvi. 6, V, the sons of the stranger are brought 
under a special covenant of blessing from Jehovah, to make 
them joyful in his house of prayer — "the sons of the stranger, 
that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love 
the name of the Lord, and to be his servants." Moreover, in 
the last indictment of God against the Hebrews, in which 
Ezekiel just before the captivity of Judah and the destruction 
of Jerusalem, enumerated the l-easons why God finally poured 
out his wrath upon them, the last crime mentioned, as if it 
were the one that filled up the measure of their iniquities, 
was the oppression of the stranger, Ezekiel, xxii. 29. " The 
people of the land have used oppression, and exercised rob- 
bery, and have vexed the poor and needy, yea, they have op- 
pressed the stranger wrongfully." Also, in the prophecy of 
Zechariah, after the captivity and destruction of the city, " the 
word of the Lord came to all the people of the land," refer- 
ring to God's former commands, "to execute true judgment, 
and show mercy, and oppress not the stranger," and declaring 
that for such oppression, and for not executing judgment and 
mercy, God had " scattered them as with a whirlwind among 
the nations," Zechariah, vii. 9, 10, 14. Finally, in the nineteenth 
chapter of Leviticus, the same ehajiter that contains the pre- 
cept, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, there stands out 
this conclusive, emphatic, comprehensive law : " If a stranger 


sojourn with you in your land, ye shall not oppress him ; hut 
the stranger that dwelleth with you shall he unto you as one 
horn amongst you ; and thou shalt love him as thyself, for ye 
were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your 
God," Leviticus, xix 34. 

Now it is incredible, impossible, that this very class of per- 
sons, thus protected and favored of God, and commended to 
the favor and love of the Hebrew people, could have been at 
the same time selected as the subjects of bondage, and ap- 
pointed as a class on whom the Hebrew masters might exer- 
cise the tyranny of perpetual slavery. It is impossible that 
they could have been doomed and treated as an inheritance 
of human chattels. Yet this is the argument, and this the 
monstrous conclusion of those who would restrict the applica- 
tion of the free law of the jubilee to persons of Hebrew birth, 
and who contend that in the 45th and 46th verses of this 
chapter, there is a wholesale consignment of the heathen to 
the Hebrews as their chattels, their slaves. 

Let us examine the Hebrew of this clause. The first phrase 
essential to be marked, is the designation of the class from 
whom servants may be taken, of the children of the strangers 
that do sojourn among you, cstes t^n biati'iriij isatt. The 
same expression is used in Leviticus, xxv. 23 : Ye are stran- 
gers and sojourners with me, d-csnrn d-<-s. Job uses a word 
derived from the same verb, iw, from which this noun, Q-na. 
is derived, to signify a dweller in the house : They that dwell 
in my house, and my maids, ijnrnoij'i iinid vnA, Job, xix. 15. So 
in Exodus, iii. 22 : Every woman shall borrow of her that so- 
journeth in her house, srjia nisto. So also in Genesis, xxiii. 4, 
the words na, stranger, and atcto, sojourner, are almost synony- 
mous. They are thus used, Psalm xxxix., "I am a stranger 
and a sojourner with thee," atihpijpas isbN is. The same words 
are used, Leviticus, xxv. 47, in the next clause of the law 
under consideration, if a sojourner or stranger, aw'tin na, 
(stranger and sojourner). One might be merely a stranger 


passing through the land, but not a sojourner, because not 
making any stay in the land ; but the sojourners, settling in 
the country, were called the strangers of the land, and their 
children are the class designated in the verse before us, their 
descendants generally. 

Of them shall ye but/, and of their families that are with 
you, which they begat in your land. This is an additional de- 
scription. Their families that are with you, eras' "jwk bfthewtr, 
i. e., separate and independent families, living by themselves, 
settled in the land under protection of its laws, and in the 
enjoyment of its privileges; not families in bondage, nor in 
any way under tribute, but free families, under protection of 
Jehovah. Of these, begotten in the land, and consequently 
citizens, proselytes, covenanters, with all the Hebrews, a nat- 
uralized part and parcel of the nation, might the Hebrews 
buy, ('3J?P is the word used), obtain, by purchasing their serv- 
ices, servants for themselves, as in the verse preceding, try, 
n*:^, the serving man and serving woman, the servant and 


Then it is added, and they shall be your possession, wzh *•>»£ 
n-jnxV, they shall be to you for a possession ; that is, the serv- 
ants so obtained by purchase of their services on contract for 
time, shall be your possession ; not the families, not the race 
of sojourners, but such of the children or descendants of the 
sojourners, or members of their families, as might enter into 
such contract of service for money; as, in Ezekiel, xliv. 28, 
God says of himself, that he is the possession of the priests, the 
Levites, e>wh» ■»i», lam their possession. Still it is not abso- 
lute; they shall be to you for a possession, not absolutely 
your f)OSsession. Nor is it any stronger than where it is said 
in Exodus, xxi. 21, of the servant purchased, that is, appren- 
ticed according to the legal contract, for money paid before- 
hand to the servant for his services, that he is his master's 


money, for lie is his money, vttn b&bb rs. He might be a He- 
brew servant, and yet be called, in this sense, his master's 
money, his master's possession, his services belonging to his 
master for so long a time as might have been specified in the 
terms of the contract. But the servant himself was never, and 
could not be, the property of the master, though he might be 
bound for a term of service, extending from master to son, as 
would be the case, if bound until the jubilee. It would be re- 
garded in the light of a long lease, conveyed for an equivalent, 
in consideration of which, though the servant making the con- 
tract was not the master's property, yet the service, promised 
and paid for teas. And this claim, up to its legal expiration, 
would with propriety be spoken of, be described, as convey- 
able from the master to his children, for any period within the 
limit of its legal conclusion at the jubilee. If the master who 
made the contract with the servant died, while any part of 
the contract remained unfulfilled, the claim belonged as an in- 
heritance, or family possession, to his children after him. 

For example, if, during the first year after the year of ju- 
bilee, when many new contracts would be made, and house- 
holders would be looking out for servants on the most profit- 
able terms, a master could agree with a servant, could hire or 
apprentice him, could buy him, as the Hebrew phrase is ordi- 
nary translated, from a family of strangers or sojourners, to 
serve in his household till the next jubilee, this would be an 
engagement for at least forty-seven years. Now suppose such 
a master to be of the age of fifty, and at the head of. a family, 
the contract would bind this servant, in effect, as a servant to 
the children of the household ; and supposing the master to 
die at the age of seventy-five, the claim upon his services 
■would descend as a possession, as an inheritance to the chil- 
dren for some twenty-two years longer. The servant might 
be said to belong to the family still, for that period of the un- 
fulfilled engagement. It was an engagement which had bound 
the servant, in Hebrew phrase, for ever. 


But this phrase, in respect to legal servitude, is absolutely 
and beyond dispute, demonstrated to mean a period no longer 
than to the jubilee. Two prominent instances, in the case of 
Hebrew servants, put this beyond possibility of controversy, 
showing that the for ciw-contract, cVi'V, had always its termi- 
nation, by the law of jubilee, at that period; nor could any 
contract override that law ; nor was there ever a pretense, be- 
cause the servant was bound to his master, technically, for 
ever, that therefore he was bound to him beyond the jubilee, 
or was not to be free at the coming of the jubilee. One of 
these cases is that of the Hebrew servant renewing his con- 
tract with his master to the longest period, Exodus, xxi. 6 : 
His master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall 
serve him for ever, bhith Snass. But at the jubilee, on the sound 
of the trumpet, he was free, and must return to his own fam- 
il} r , he and his children with him. 

The second instance of this illustration of the usage and 
meaning of the word and the law, is in Deuteronomy, xv. 17, 
comprehending the Hebrew men-servants and maid-servants 
under the same rule. At his own agreement and desire, the 
Hebrew servant has his ear bored, and is bound until the long- 
est period ever admitted by the law : And he shall be thy serv- 
ant for ever, cssV "iss ^h fi*u\ And also unto thy maid-servant 
thou s/talt do likeicise. Nevertheless, at the jubilee they were 
to be free ; this contract, which was said to be for ever, termi- 
nated by a law that lay at the foundation of the whole system 
of Hebrew jurisprudence and polity, at the jubilee; it could 
not be made to run across that limit ; no one could be held in 
servitude, no matter what were the terms of his contract, be- 
yond that illustrious year of liberty. 

A similar usage and illustration are found in 1 Samuel, xxvii. 
12: "And Achish believed David, sa}ing, He hath made his 
people Israel utterly to abhor him ; therefore he shall be my 
servant for ever, eV-y nzvh ^ rrrv, he shall be to me for a serv- 
ant for ever?" 1 


In the book of Job there is another illustration, xl. 28 — in 
our translation, xli. 4 : " Will he make a covenant with thee ? 
wilt thou take him for a servant for ever ?" The phraseology 
here is strikingly illustrative ; for it seems to be drawn from 
the very contract made with servants who were willing to 
enter into the longest apprenticeship, and the manner of seal- 
ing it, that is, by boring the ear of the voluntary bondman. 
" Can any man bore the nose of leviathan with a gin, and take 
him in his sight ? Canst thou bore his jaw through with a 
thorn ? Will he speak soft words unto thee ? Will he make 
a covenant with thee t ^isv rp-.a rhsvi :? Wilt thou take him 
for a servant for ever, nV-.» i%£> hsri^P?" It is to be marked 
that the word here translated take, is a synonyme of that for 
purchasing or buying the contract with a servant: "Wilt 
thou buy him for a servant for ever ?" In buying a servant, 
the covenant or contract was made with himself, not with a 
third party. Hence the condition here referred to, for the 
possibility of taking leviathan for a servant — " will he enter 
into covenant with thee ?" Thou canst take him for thy serv- 
ant in no other way. Will he agree with thee to be thine, W, 
thy bounden servant of all work, for thyself and thy family ? 
Wilt thou bind him for thy maidens ? Will he consent to be 
a fixture in thine household ? 


Nothing is requisite, nothing needed, to strengthen this dem- 
onstration. It is as clear as the noon that the longest period 
of servitude among the Hebrews was entered into by volun- 
tary contract, and was terminated by the jubilee. Hebrew 
servants were apprenticed for ever, and so were a possession, 
an inheritance, until the jubilee, but never slaves. The chil- 
dren of strangers and sojourners, in like manner, were appren- 
ticed for ever ; and in like manner were a possession, but never 
slaves. With Hebrew servants the long term was the excep- 


tion, and the ordinary terra was six years ; and even during 
the long terra, they were to be treated as hired servants, 
rather than as apprentices, though they were legally bound. 
With servants from the heathen, or from the families of 
strangers, the long terra of apprenticeship would seem to have 
been the ordinary term, and the six years, or less, the excep- 
tion ; and during the long term there was no such legal pro- 
visions for them as for the Hebrews, requiring that they should 
be treated as hired servants. But the advent of the jubilee 
put an end to both periods and both kinds of servitude, and all 
were free, all the inhabitants of the land. We shall advert to 
some of the reasons for the difference that was made between 
the Hebrew servants and those from the families of sojourners, 
or of proselytes, or from the heathen. But we are now pre- 
pared to consider the 46th verse, the remainder of the third 
clause of the jubilee-enactment, in its true meaning. In our 
version it runs thus: And ye shall take them, as an inherit- 
ance for your children after you, to inherit a possession : they 
shall be your bondmen for ever. 

Taking the Hebrew, phrase by phrase, it is as follows: And 
ye shall take them as an inheritance, crs cnVhrrni. The verb 
is Hithpael of hrii, to receive, or to inherit, and with b following 
it, is rather transitive than active; so that instead of meaning, 
" Ye shall take them for an inheritance," it rather means, 
"Ye shall leave them behind as an inheritance," Ye shall be- 
queath them as an inheritance ; or, Ye shall possess them to 
be bequeathed. Gesenius renders the phrase thus : JEosque 
possidt bitis r< Unqut ndos filiis vestris post vos, Ye shall %)os- 
sess them to be left to your children after you — to your chil- 
dren after you, to inherit a 2)ossession / not than for a posses- 
sion, but, simply, to inherit a possession / that is, the right 
to their services during the legal, contracted period. The 
Hebrew phrase is, nthx tve~h, to occupy a 2>ossession, to re- 
ceive as heir a 2)ossession. Compare Genesis, xv. 3,4; xxi. 
10; Jeremiah, xlix. 1, 2 ; Numbers, xxvii. 11 ; xxxvi. 8. 


The next phrase, translated, they shall be your bondmen for 
ever, contains no word for " bondmen," but is as follows in the 
original : nasri cr-s chyh,for ever on them ye shall lay service, 
or from them ye shall take service / or, as in similar passages 
it is sometimes translated, shall serve yourselves of them. 
Compare Jeremiah, xxx. 8 ; xxv. 14 ; xxii. 13. In this last 
passage in Jeremiah, this form of phraseology is applied to 
the serving one's self of his neighbor without Avages. And 
so, Exodus, i. 14, all their services which they served upon 
them, era snar—iteN Er^'a?— Vs. The same phrase would be ap- 
plied to designate the employment of a Hebrew servant, the 
ordinary six years' servant, so that there is no meaning of a 
bondman, or of bond-service, connected with it. It means, " Ye 
may have them for your servants for ever ;" that is, as we have 
seen, for the longest permissible and legal time of contract. 

Or, the qualifying epithet of duration may belong to the 
previous phrase, to inherit a possession for ever ; and then the 
phrase of service would stand alone, of them ye shall serve 
yourselves. It makes little or no difference with whichsoever 
member the word of duration, cVi», be coupled. Whether ap- 
plied to the individuals, as a class, or to the service contracted 
for, as a possession, it is clearly limited by the statute itself, as 
in Deuteronomy, xv. 17, and in Exodus, xxi. G. It is simply 
the permission to engage, and keep until the jubilee, servants 
from among the heathen and from the families of sojourners in 
the land. Such contracts should be binding in law, and in fact 
they served to incorporate the strangers and sojourners more 
immediately and closely with the people, and constituted a 
process of naturalization eminently wise and favorable, consid- 
ering the character and habits which those born and bred in 
heathenism, and but recently come to sojourn in the Hebrew 
country, must have assumed. This would seem to be one of 
the reasons for the difference put by law between the nature 
and extent of the lease by which Hebrew servants might be 
hired, and that by which the heathen might be bound ; the 


former being by law always treated as hired servants, even 
when bound till the jubilee, but the latter subjected accord- 
ing to the letter of the contract. 


Two points in this examination deserve a most emphatic re- 
gard. First, the unfortunate, unauthorized introduction of the 
word bondmen in our English translation, without any word 
corresponding to it in the original, can not but lead the mere 
English reader to a false conclusion. This is one of the sources 
of error on this subject. The difference between the phrases, 
they shall be your bondmen and of them ye shall obtain your 
service, or from them ye shall serve yourselves, might be all the 
difference between slavery and freedom. The phraseology in- 
dicating slavery produces a most deplorable falsehood ; and 
when the effect is to load a divine revelation with the reproach 
of a wicked institution, or to provide the slaveholder with an 
anodyne for his conscience, preventing a conviction of the 
greatness of his crime in holding his fellow-creatures in bond- 
age, and the apologists for slavery with the argument of its 
being appointed and sanctioned of God, no reprobation is suf- 
ficiently severe for such perversion of the word of God. If it 
be deliberate, the whole curse at the close of the New Testa- 
ment comes down upon the person who is guilty of it; if it be 
carelessness, the sin is little less: the result, every way, is 
beyond measure injurious. 

Second: the reference in Job to the bargain with levia- 
than, as entering into a contract or covenant of service, the 
contract being with leviathan himself, and not with any 
third party, supposed to have any ownership or authority 
for such a transfer or sale ; the contract being voluntary, and 
no supposition of its being attainable or customary in any 
other way ; is one of the most important of the illustrations of 
truth concerning this subject in all the current of the Scrip- 
tures. It is the more forcible, because incidental. It is like a 


clear, transparent window, through which the light floods the 
whole apartment. There could have been no such illustra- 
tion as this employed concerning slavery, in which there is no 
bargain even with the slave ; no agreement, no persuasion, 
nor any attempt at persuasion, nor any need of it ; but a bar- 
gain and sale over the head of the slave, without any consul- 
tation of his will or wishes ; and with no more possibility of his 
interposing any obstacle or opposition against being so bound, 
so transferred, so bought and sold, than if he were a stick of 
wood or a wheelbarrow ; no more will of his own, no more 
consultation with him as to the bargain ; no more supposition 
of any obstacle or difficulty to be overcome on his ]:>art than 
if he were the skeleton of a mastodon or a whale, to be trans- 
ferred from Judea to the British museum. 

The illustration is of a man endeavoring to persuade another 
to be his servant, to enter into a contract of service for the uses 
of his household ; it is a household servant himself, with whom 
the contract is supposed to be made, and not a slave-dealer, or 
an owner or master of the man. It is the servant himself, who is 
supposed to have the whole and sole power and right of mak- 
ing the contract ; and the possibility of referring to a third 
party, or a party that has the power of compelling the servant 
into such contract, or of making it for him, or against his will, 
or without his voluntary permission and engagement, is not 
mooted. It is not supposed that there exists any such possi- 
bility. It is supposed that the only mode of getting a servant 
is by applying for his services to himself, and making the con- 
tract or covenant with him, persuading him to enter into it ; 
and if that persuasion be not successful, there is no other mode 
of effecting the bargain, no power that can compel the servant 
into it. 

The freedom and naturalness of this illustration make it very 
powerful ; it is a most convincing refutation of those who say 
that Job and the patriarchs bought their household servants 
as property ; for men never use persuasion with an article of 


property, nor solicit of a chattel the favor of entering into an 
agreement of service. It is clear and convincing against the 
supposition of property in man, showing, most conclusively, 
that that was not the ground nor tenure of domestic servi- 
tude, but that such service was a voluntary thing on the part 
of the servant ; just as voluntary with him, as the agreement 
to take him for a servant was on the part of the master. As 
an illustration of the freedom of the social state, and its sep- 
aration from the oppressive despotism of slavery, it corre- 
sponds perfectly with every reference to the same subject in 
the book of Job, showing a domestic constitution, and style 
and spirit of social equality and kindness, incompatible with 
the existence of slavery, and not admitting its supposition. 

The language employed in regard to this voluntary con- 
tract, this persuasion of the servant himself to enter into a 
covenant of service, is similar to that used in regard to Abra- 
ham's getting his servants, and the Hebrews generally theirs. 
The word is somewhat different from that in Exodus, xxi. 2, in 
regard to obtaining a servant, but there translated, If thou 
buy a servant, and also in Ecclesiastes, ii. 7, I got me servants 
and maid-servants, and also in Genesis, xvii. 23, and other 
places, where the souls or servants of Abraham or others are 
spoken of as gotten with money, or bought with money, that 
is, gotten by the same persuasion and contract with the serv- 
ants themselves as is here described as a voluntary contract 
with the servant alone, and not with any third party. The 
phraseology here used, Wilt thou take leviathan for a serv- 
ant ? will he make a covenant of service with thee ? might 
have been applied, for example, to the contract of Abraham 
with his head servant, the major dorno of his house : Wilt 
thou take this Eliezer of Damascus to be the steward of thine 
house? Will he enter into covenant with thee ? Thou canst 
get him only by a bargain with himself; thou canst buy him 
for thy servant in no other way ; only by persuading him canst 
thou take him, for he is his own master, and free to engage 

job's servants voluntary. 311 

with whomsoever he pleases. And so of every one of Abra- 
ham's servants, as well as Job's ; and so of all the servants 
ever described as employed among the Hebrews, whether 
native or of strangers ; the " possession" of them was a posses- 
sion of their services merely as an equivalent for money paid 
to themselves. 

The culminating and conquering point in this illustration is 
that of its being employed with reference to the longest 
period of service possible, that is, the period to the jubilee, 
and styled for ever. This kind of service also, this, which was 
to be for an inheritance of a possession for the children of the 
family, is proved to have been as voluntary on the part of the 
servant, whose services were thus engaged as a family heri- 
tage, as on the part of the master or householder engaging 
them. Wilt thou take him for a servant for ever ? Will he 
make this covenant with thee ? Canst thou buy him, canst 
thou persuade him by money to be such a fixture in thine 
household, bound, for so long a time, to thee and to thy chil- 
dren ? Nothing can exceed, nor can any thing evade, the 
demonstrative power of this illustration against slavery, and 
in proof of freedom.* 

* Compare Rosenmueller on Job stead of being at the disposal of tho 

xl, 28, the pactum or covenant, as in master, to be used by him as his prop- 

Deut. xv., 17 ; also Saalsciiutz, erty, to be maltreated and put to 

Laws of Moses, Yol. II., devotes a death at his pleasure, to be tasked, 

paragraph to the consideration of the tortured, bought and sold, as a brute 

impossibility of slavery, in the sense beast, the servant was protected by 

of that word in modern times, and law from all injustice, was shielded 

among other people, prevailing among from the tyranny of the master, and 

the Hebrews, and the impropriety of from every one of the abuses of which 

the word slavery, as applied to their slavery, and especially American 

system of domestic service. Every slavery, is the monstrous accumula- 

element of injustice and oppression tion. There could consequently be 

inhering in slavery was most care- no slaves among the Hebrews. Com- 

fully and distinctly forbidden, and in- pare Jay on Hebrew servitude. 


Case of Tm: Native Hebrew Selling Himself to the Stranger. — To the Stock of 
the Stranger's Family. — Meaning of this Phrase and Contract. — Proof from 
it Against Slavery. — The Hebrews, in Such a Case, as much an Inherit am a 
and Possession for Strangers, as Strangers for Them. — Slavery Impossible in 
Either Case. — The Jubilee Statute a Naturalization Law. — Argument from; 
the After History. 

We are not left to conjecture in regard to the meaning of 
the phrase inherit a possession, or receive an inheritance for 
your children after you. We have it most happily demon- 
strated as not indicating any such thing as slavery or invol- 
untary service, by the case of Hebrews themselves engaging 
to become just such an inheritance for the children of the 
stranger, in the family of the stranger. But they could not be 
slaves ; they were neither permitted to enslave themselves nor 
others. Yet they could engage their services, in a voluntary 
contract, for so long a period, that the contract, the time, the 
service engaged, might legally and justly belong to the chil- 
dren of the master engaging and paying for them, till the whole 
contract was fulfilled. 


The meaning of the verse before us is settled entirely be- 
yond question by the next clause in the enactment, where the 
phrase, a possession and inheritance for your children after 
you, is defined and explained by a phrase in the 47th verse, 
where the case is supposed of a native Hebrew selling himself 
to a stranger or sojourner, to be taken in the same manner as 
an inheritance for their children after them ; the Hebrew sell- 
ing himself for a servant to the stock of the stranger's 
family. Here is the whole meaning of the preceding con- 


tract as applied to servants from the families of the strangers 
and sojourners selling themselves to the Hebrews until the 
jubilee, that is, to the stock of the Hebrew's family. If such 
sale on the part of the Hebrew servant did not constitute him 
a bond-servant or slave, neither on the part of the heathen 
servant did it constitute him a slave ; and if such sale, by 
which the Hebrew servant became an inheritance belonging 
to the stock of the stranger's family, did not interfere with 
the law of jubilee, by which every inhabitant of the land was 
free in the fiftieth year, neither did it so interfere on the part 
of the heathen servant, when he had become an inheritance 
belonging to the stock of the Hebrew's family. 

"VVe suppose this fourth clause, in regard to Hebrew servants 
and their treatment, to commence with the last paragraph in 
the 46th verse ; and so commencing, it reads as follows : 
" Moreover, over your brethren, the children of Israel, ye shall 
not rule one over another with rigor. But if a stranger or 
sojourner wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by 
him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner 
by thee, or to the stock of the stranger's family, after 
that he is sold, he may be redeemed again," etc. The Hebrew 
here for the sale is -it-es, as in Exodus, xxi. V, and Leviticus, xxv. 
39, 42, translated in verse 39 be sold, but in verse 47 sell him- 
self which latter is the true translation. But the phrase most 
important to be considered is the stock of the stranger's fam- 
ily, -ia nciBtitt npyV -DtaS}, i. e., if he sell himself to the stock, or 
family tree, of the stranger, to the trunk of the family of the 
stranger. The meaning is exactly that of the phrase in the 4Gth 
verse, " an inheritance for your children after you to inherit 
a possession." The apprenticeship is to the stock of the family 
for the whole number of years to the next jubilee. 


The case in this clause is of a Hebrew waxing poor, and 



selling himself on this long lease of his services, limited only 
by the jubilee, to the family of some rich stranger. He is 
said to have sold himself, in this transaction, to the stock of 
the family ; that is, he has made a contract to abide in the 
family and serve them, and their children after them, until 
the jubilee. This is precisely what the strangers were sup- 
posed to do, when they were taken as an inheritance for the 
Hebrews and their children after them. They sold themselves 
to the stock of the Hebrew family, that is, they made a last- 
ing contract for service, not to be interrupted till the jubilee, 
unless they were redeemed, brought back again before the 
conclusion of the contract. A relative might redeem the 
Hebrews thus sold, or, if they were able, they might redeem 
themselves, that is, might buy back the right to their own 
services, for which they had been paid beforehand. 

For they had received the money for the whole number of 
years remaining, when the contract was made, before the next 
jubilee. This is proved by verse 51, and by the provisions of 
the enactment regulating the manner of the repurchase. The 
serfant redeeming himself was to reckon with his master, and 
pay back part of the money for which he had sold himself, ac- 
cording to the number of years remaining of his unfulfilled 
contract up to the jubilee. If more years remained, he would 
have to pay more, if less, less, as the price of his redemption. 
And the reckoning was to be year by year, according to the 
reckoning by which the yearly hired servant was paid for his 
services ; for the peculiarity of the treatment of a Hebrew 
servant bound to his master's family until the jubilee, was just 
this, that he should be treated as a yearly hired servant would 
have to be treated ; this is apparent from verses 50 and 53, 
compared with verse 40. It seems to have been considered a 
generous and gentle treatment of the servant on this long 
contract, if he were treated as a hired servant, a i -5b, but if 
not, then this long contract was a rigorous rule. It was en- 
acted in behalf of every Hebrew servant that during this long 


contract he should be with his master as a yearly hired serv- 
ant, nstps ntv iistes, and that his master should not rule with 
rigor over him. But no such specification was made in be- 
half of the heathen servant, or the servant from the families 
of the sojourners and strangers, and in this important respect 
the native Hebrew was preferred before the foreigner, and 
greater privileges were secured to him by law. Indeed, the 
specific clauses of enactment in this jubilee chapter, from verse 
38 to the close, are occupied mainly with establishing these 
distinctions between one and the same class of Hebrew and 
heathen servants, namely, those whose lease of service ex- 
tended to the jubilee. 

In this view, it is not important whether the latter half of 
the 46th verse, which we have preferred to read as the open- 
ing or preamble of the fourth clause, be joined to what UHlows 
or to what precedes. In our translation it belongs to what 
precedes, and the Hebrew conjunction has been translated 
but instead of and ; so giving the force of contrast, as if the 
families of strangers might be subjected to a more rigorous 
service than of native Hebrews. In the respect which we 
have pointed out, this is true ; but the word bondmen in the 
preceding part of the verse so translated, not being in the 
original, nor any thing to justify it, a wrong impression is 
produced ; it is made to appear as if the heathen might be 
used as bondmen or slaves, but the Hebrews not ; whereas, 
there is -no consideration of the state of a bondman or slave 
at all, nor any possibility of such state admitted, but only a 
specification of the respective manner in which the Hebrew 
and heathen servant, under the same contract as to time, 
should be treated during that time. Over such servants of 
the children of strangers as the Hebrews might buy, they 
might rule for the whole period of the contract, without be- 
ing obliged to treat them during that time as hired servants 
must bo treated ; " but over your brethren, the children of 
Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigor." That 


this is the only point of contrast is proved by the 53d verse : 
" As a yearly hired servant shall he be with him, and his mas- 
ter shall not rule over him with rigor in thy sight." 


This phrase, rule over him with rigor, as in verses 53, 46, 
and 43, thou shalt not rule over him with rigor, '.n n«nry- s& 
tjTjBS, is found only in this chapter of Leviticus, and in con- 
nection with this law of jubilee. But in the first chapter of 
Exodus a similar phrase is employed, descriptive of the rig- 
orous service imposed by the Egyptians on the children of 
Israel in the time of their oppression : They made the chil- 
dren of Israel to serve with rigor. All their service, wherein 
they made them serve, teas xoith rigor, cri2 nzs -a-x tn-bi— Vs 
jj-E2. Any such oppressive rule was forbidden ; it was a 
crushing oppression, from which God had delivered them, and 
they were defended by special edict, from ever exercising the 
same upon others. It only needs to repeat, in this connection, 
the benevolent command in the nineteenth chapter of Leviti- 
cus: " If a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall 
not oppress him, but the stranger that dwelleth with you shall 
be unto you as one born amongst you, and thou shalt love 
him as thyself, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt," 
and to connect with this the statute in Leviticus xxiv. : " Ye 
shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for 
one of your own country," and we shall feel it to be impossi- 
ble that, in one and the same breath of divine legislation, an 
oppressive treatment, forbidden for the Hebrews, was permit- 
ted and appointed for the strangers. 

If it had been plainly said, Ye shall not oppress the children 
of the Hebrews, but ye may oppress the children of strangers, 
what must have been thought, what would have been said, of 
such legislation, so contradictory in itself, and so glaringly in- 
consistent with previous legislation in regard to the same class? 
Yet this is the very inconsistency, and contradiction, and moral 


obliquity, implied and involved in the assertion of those who 
contend that the forbidding of a rigorous treatment of the He- 
brew servants, licenses and authorizes, and was intended so to 
do, an oppressive treatment of the heathen servants, even as 
slaves. Never was a more monstrous argument instituted, 
subversive of the very first ideas of the divine benevolence 
and justice taught in the Mosaic books themselves, as well as 
in all the other Scriptures. The argument could hardly have 
been proposed, had it not been for the use of the word bond- 
men in our English version, in the 46th verse of this chajiter, 
where there is no such word, nor any thing answeriil^ to it, in 
the original Hebrew. And even in the margin our translators 
have put the more literal and truthful rendering, so that a 
careful English reader may see that there is no such word as 
bondmen in the text. 


The jubilee statute, the great crowning statute of universal 
personal liberty, was passed for all the inhabitants of the land, 
and no statute of limitation or exception was, at any time, 
afterwards added ; but only statutes were added specifying 
the manner of treatment up to the time of release. But if 
there is nothing in the great jubilee statute itself that limits 
it, expressly and undeniably, then it must be interpreted in 
accordance with the humane and free spirit of other Hebrew 
legislation on the same subject. It should be our desire not 
to give to despotism, but freedom, the benefit of any doubt. 
Were it not for a desire to interpret the statute as against 
universal freedom ; and were it not for the careless assump- 
tion that slavery existed among the Hebrews, it could never 
have been so interpreted. Men have looked through the glass 
of modern slavery, and the history of ancient, to find the same 
system among the Hebrews. But, in reality, there is found a set 
of laws and causes to prevent and render it impossible, and at 


length to break it up, all over the world. The system of He- 
brew common law would, by itself, have put an end to slavery 
everywhere. The Hebrew laws elevated and dignified free 
labor, and converted slave labor into free. 

Slavery could not be utterly abolished in any other Avay 
than by a system of such laws. A people must be trained for 
freedom. The heathen slaves could not be admitted to dwell 
among the Hebrews, except in such subjection, preparatory 
to complete emancipation. The subjection itself was a volun- 
tary apprenticeship, and not involuntary servitude ; and by 
reason of«the privileges secured, and the instruction enjoined 
by law, it was a constant preparation for entire emancipation, 
a constant elevation of character ; and then, every fifty years, 
the safety of complete emancipation was demonstrated. The 
jubilee statute can not be understood in any other light. But 
when the vail of prejudice is taken away, it is especially by the 
tenor of the Hebrew laws in regard to slavery, that the beauty 
and glory of the Hebrew legislation, its justice, wisdom, and 
beneficence become more apparent than ever. 

This law of heathen servitude until the jubilee, was a natu- 
ralization law of as many years' duration as would elapse be- 
fore the next jubilee. It was so many years' probation of 
those who had previously been idolaters and slaves, for free- 
dom. It was a contrivance to drain heathenism of its fecu- 
lence. The heathen slaves were in no condition to be admit- 
ted at once to the privileges of freedom and of citizenship 
among the Hebrews. They needed to be under restraint, law, 
and service. They were put under such a system as made 
them familiar with all the religious privileges and observances 
which God had bestowed and ordered, a system that admitted 
them to instruction and kindness, and prepared them to pass 
into integral elements of the nation. It was a system of eman- 
cipation and of moral transfiguration, going on through ages ; 
the taking up of an element of foreign ignorance, depravity, 
and misery, and converting it into an element of native com- 


fort, knowledge, and piety. And the statute of the jubilee, 
the statute of liberty to all the inhabitants of the land every 
fifty years, was the climax of all the beneficent statutes by 
which the sting was extracted from slavery, the fang drawn ; 
and by this statute, in conjunction with all the rest, the He- 
brew republic was to hold to the world the glory of an exam- 
ple of freedom and equality, in marvelous and delightful con- 
trast with the system of horrible oppression, cruelty, and 
bondage, everywhere else prevailing. 

The distinction between the tenure and the treatment of 
Hebrew servants and foreign, was not arbitrary. It grew 
naturally out of God's whole revealed and providential sys- 
tem, as well as being in conformity with the necessity of the 
case. But if there had been no necessity, it was only in keep- 
ing with the favor of God toward his own chosen people, that 
the servants from among the heathen might, if they were 
willing, be held for a period much longer than the servants 
from among the Hebrews, and in a less exalted and more gen- 
eral service than their own. A Hebrew servant was free 
every seventh year; a heathen servant might be held by a 
contract for a much longer time, for the whole time remaining 
to the jubilee. It would have been a strange thing, a solecism, 
if there had not been some such distinction. Yet the distinc- 
tion itself was voluntary ; that is, it was at any heathen serv- 
ant's option to make a contract for the whole period to the 
next jubilee, or not. If, rather than make such a contract, he 
chose to return to the heathen country, he was at perfect lib- 
erty to go ; and if he staid, and could find any master to take 
him as a hired servant, and not as a servant of all work, till the 
jubilee, there was no law against that : he was at liberty to 
hire himself out on the best terms, and to the best master that 
he could find. So much is indisputable, and so much is abso- 
lutely and entirely inconsistent with slavery. 



The argument and evidence from the after-history of the 
Jews, in regard to the unlimited application of the law of ju- 
bilee to the strangers as well as native Hebrews, is nearly as 
demonstrative and irresistible as that from the statute itself. 
It is clear that if the heathen had been given and appointed 
of Jehovah to be taken as perpetual slaves by the Hebrews, a 
race of slaves must have been constituted, who would have 
increased, in the course of a few centuries, to the number of 
hundreds of thousands, even to millions. But that no such 
race w r as ever in existence is equally clear, not the least trace 
of them being found in the sacred records. Had there been 
such a race in the time of Jeremiah, the Jewish masters would 
not have been so eager to convert their Hebrew servants into 
slaves. That conspiracy against the law indicates that they 
had, at that time, very few heathen servants. Indeed, by the 
natural process of the law of jubilee, in connection with other 
statutes, each generation of heathen servants, instead of being 
perpetuated and increased, passed into free and integral ele- 
ments of the Hebrew State ; so that, after the lapse of no very 
long period, the supply of heathen servants must have been 
greatly diminished, and almost the only prevailing form of 
service must have been the six years' period, as appointed in 
the twenty-first chapter of Exodus. 

If the Hebrew families and masters could, by law, have 
held as many heathen as they chose for slaves, and the chil- 
dren born of such slaves followed the condition of their par- 
ents, then nothing could have prevented such a set of men 
as were .ready to undertake and carry through a revolution 
from freedom to slavery in respect to their own countrymen, 
from buying and breeding heathen slaves without limit, espe- 
cially if God's law for the land had absolutely given and be- 
queathed the heathen to them for that express purpose. This 
would have been such an establishment of slavery by the 


divine law, as would have rendered inevitable and permanent 
the most diabolical and venal licentiousness and cruelty that 
ever, in any systematic shape, has cursed the earth. But, by 
the law of the land, after an appointed time, the strangers and 
sojourners, and children of strangers from among the heathen, 
all became denizens, citizens, proselytes, and could claim the 
privileges of Hebrews. By the time one season of jubilee had 
been run through, they would " enter into the congregation 
of the Lord ;" and thus slavery was effectually and for ever 
prevented, both by law, and the practical working of the insti- 
tutions of society. Hence the grasping avarice of the Jews 
turned at length against their own native servants ; and 
hence their daring and cruel attempt to change, by violence, 
those fundamental and far-reaching statutes of freedom and 
a free policy, appointed for them by Jehovah. 

To those who have not examined the subject, it seems 
strange that not the sin of idolatry, but the sin of slavery, 
the violation of the law of freedom, should have been marked 
of God, among the catalogue of Jewish crimes, as the one 
decisive act of wickedness that filled up the measure of their 
iniquities, and brought down the wrath of God" upon them 
without remedy or repeal. But the wonder ceases, when the 
nature of the crime is taken into consideration. Being a 
crime concocted and determined by all the princes, priests, 
ami people, together with the king, it was really making the 
whole nation a nation of men-stealers ; and man-stealing was a 
crime appointed in the law of God to the punishment of death ; 
so that the adopting of it by the government and the people, 
was an enshrining of the iniquity in public and most glaring 
defiance of God's authority, in the form of their state policy. 
They had thus contrived, as they imagined, a security even 
in the midst of their oppression, against punishment. It was 
doing that, as a corporation of usurpers, in safety, which they 
could not have done as individuals without exposure to the 
penalty of death. But though hand join in hand, God's ven- 


322 god's swift vengeance. 

gcance is but the surer and more terrible. And the sword of 
God came down upon them in the very midst of this appall- 
ing crime, as swift, almost, as the lightning. 

Beyond all question there were many who lent themselves 
to this iniquity for the sake of gain and power, who never 
were guilty of the sin of idolatry; they would have abhorred 
that wickedness, as worse than any sacrilege ; and the sin of 
idolatry was not, at that time, adopted by the government 
and the nation, in open defiance of Almighty God. But the 
sin of bringing free servants into a forced, involuntary servi- 
tude, the sin of changing freemen into articles of property, 
the sin of stealing men from themselves, and chattelizing them 
in perpetual slavery, was so chosen and adopted ; and God's 
extremest wrath came upon the whole nation in consequence. 
Many at that time were strenuous for rites, but not for right- 
eousness ; for the law as to religious ceremonies, but not for 
humanity and justice; for sacrifice towards God, but not 
mercy nor common honesty towards man. They would kill 
an ox for worship, and steal their neighbor's wages, and slay 
his freedom, in the same breath. They "trusted in oppres- 
sion and perverseness, and staid themselves thereon ;" and 
these are crimes, the lurid light of which burns in the pages 
of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and others, in such a 
manner, that we see how the nation went into the establish- 
ment of slavery against the repeated warnings and denunci- 
ations of God's messengers, in every faithful, free pulpit all 
over the land. Amazement at God's wrath, as if slavery 
were, in his sight, a guilt greater than idolatry, passes, under 
these circumstances, under a true knowledge of the case, into 
amazement at God's forbearance, and at the infatuation of the 
Jewish people. 

They were deliberately inaugurating a crime, as their chosen 
state policy, which they knew would increase in a numerical 
ratio from generation to generation. If it could have been 
restricted to the first persons stolen and deprived of their 


liberty, the iniquity would have been comparatively small. 
But for two immortal beings forced into this cbattelism, there 
would be five others stolen and forced, in like manner, by the 
next generation ; the guilt of oppression on the one side, and 
the sufferance of cruelty on the other, enlarging as it ran on 
into posterity. Now to set agoing such a system of injustice, 
which was to branch out like the hereditary perdition from 
the depraved head of a race, increasing as the Rio de la Plata 
or the Amazon ; to set a central spring of thousand other 
springs of domestic and state tyranny coiled, and coiling on, 
in geometrical progression ; and a central fountain of thousand 
other fountains of inhumanity and misery; and to do this in 
opposition to the light of freedom and religion, and of laws in 
protection of liberty, given from God, and maintained by him 
for a thousand years, was so extreme and aggravated a pitch 
of wickedness, that it is not wonderful that God put an instant 
stop to it, by wiping Jerusalem and Judea of their inhabitants, 
as a man wipeth a dish and turneth it upside down ; it is not 
wonderful that we find the king and the nation cut off at once, 
by this enormous crime, from all possiblity of God's further 

That evil of such a crime was the greater, because, while it 
is enlarging every year, both in guilt and hopelessness, it seems 
lessened in intensity, as it passes down into posterity. Pos- 
terity are content to receive and uphold that slavery as a com- 
fortable domestic institution, which, at the beginning, was 
acknowledged as a glaring crime. The sons of the first men- 
stealers would, with comparatively easy consciences, take the 
children of those whom their parents had stolen, and claim 
them as their property, being slaves born. But, in tact, in. a 
nice adjustment of the moral question, we find that the guilt 
'is doubled ; because, while the parents may have been stolen 
only from themselves, the children are stolen both from the 
parents and from themselves. The stealing and enslaving of 
the parents could create no claim upon the children as prop- 


erty, nor produce any mitigation or extenuation of the sin of 
stealing- the children also and holding them as slaves. And so 
the guilt runs on, nor could the progress of whole ages dimin- 
ish it, or change its character. 

Now, although never a word should have been found bear- 
ing on this subject in the New Testament, it is manifest that 
a large space is given to it in the Divine revelation, and if there 
is any silence in the New Testament, it is because so much and 
so plainly was spoken in the Old. Tt may be said, If ye hear 
not Moses and the prophets, neither will ye be persuaded 
though one rose from the dead. If the Pentateuch and proph- 
ets be received as the word of God, we need no further tes- 
timonial or expression of God's judgment against slavery. 
And it is a fearful thing for any man to endeavor to distort 
the tenor of this revelation from justice to injustice, from kind- 
ness to oppression, from the advocacy of freedom to the sanc- 
tion of slavery. Let no man, because slavery is the sin of his 
own country, therefore seek to defend it from the Scriptures, 
handling the word of God deceitfully, acting with it as a dis- 
honest dealer with a pack of cards, or a gambler with loaded 
dice. Strangely intense must be the prejudice that, for the 
sake of shielding slavery from being reprobated as a sin,^vould 
rather rejoice to have found it commended and commanded 
in the Avord of God, than admit the demonstration that it 
stands in the condemnation of the Almighty. 

The word of God is as an electric or galvanic battery, com- 
posed of many parts, all of them being directed to the object 
of overcoming and removing sin, and establishing love to God 
and man as the rule and habit on earth as in heaven. Then 
what a piece of villainy it is towards mankind as sinners, to 
draw off, as it were, over night, the power from any part of 
this battery, its power to rouse the conscience, its power to 
startle the moral sense into the noting and abhorring of moral 
abominations long practiced as forms of social expediency and 
luxury. Both historical and preceptive, the word of God is a 


warning against sin ; many things in it are light-houses on 
dangerous reefs. Therefore, no greater treachery is possible, 
nor more malignant treason against mankind, than to creep 
into one of these light-houses, and under pretense of being its 
keeper, to put out its light ; or, still worse, to put up the sig- 
nal of its being a safe harbor, when the man or the nation that 
makes for it will inevitably be dashed in pieces. 

In the face of danger and death, God's ministers were com- 
manded to speak all the words of the Lord to the guilty peo- 
ple, to the nation, the cities, the king, the princes, the proph- 
ets, and the priests. " Diminish not a word ; if so be they 
will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I 
may repent me of the evil which I purpose to do unto them, 
because of the evil of their doings." And again : " It may be 
that they will hear, and return, that I may forgive their 
iniquity and their sin." And again, in regard to the prophets 
that withheld the truth, " They walk in lies ; they strengthen 
also the hands of evil doers, that none doth return from his 
wickedness. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had 
caused my people to hear my words, then they should have 
turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their 

"What could be more impressive than these warnings, in re- 
gard to the guilt of concealing God's word because of the fear 
of man, and on account of the popularity of sin ? The very 
purpose for which a divine revelation Avas given is prevented, 
and its accomplishment made impossible, by such treachery ; 
and therefore our blessed Lord, in the very opening of his 
own ministry, declared, in regard to all the commands in the 
Old Testament, in the law and the prophets, that whosoever 
should break the least of them, and teacii men so, which he 
would do by denying, perverting, or concealing them, should 
be excluded from the kingdom of heaven. 


Comparison of Roman and American Slavery. — The Climax of Immorality in the 
Sanction of Slavery under the Gospel.— The Laws of God in the Old Testa- 
ment in full force in Judf.a under the New. — Oppression Sinful in itself. — What 
is Sinful under the Old Testament, Sinful also under the New. — Impiety of 
Making the Gospel the Minister of Sin. 

It is wonderful and fearful to see how the persistent indul- 
gence of any sin, under the light of the gospel, conducts back 
the soul at length, as it were blindfold, into a worse darkness 
than that of heathenism ; worse by contrast with light, and 
worse because committed against light, and without the ex- 
cuse of darkness. The practice of slavery, under the light 
of the gospel, has at length carried a whole Christian com- 
munity, with the sanction of the church of God, to the main- 
tenance of a system, as divine, which reproduces the most 
atrocious features of Roman slavery. The product of a cor- 
rupt Christianity, the result of the truths held in unrighteous- 
ness, and of that judicial blindness which follows, is much 
worse than the product of heathenism, even in being only the 
same; for it is accompanied with a conscience seared as with 
a hot iron. The old Greeks and Romans, in the absence of a 
divine revelation, did not see the cruelty and wickedness of 
slavery, but they never attributed the system to the benevo- 
lence of God, never dreamed of asserting that it was one of 
the activities of the divine attributes, or proofs of a preemi- 
nent piety. In the United States, a Christian people, under 
the light of a divine revelation, explicit in regard to this very 
form of oppression, adopt, cherish, applaud and pray over it, 
yea, give thanks to God for it, not only as the most perfect 
state of human society, and not antagonistic with the divine 



■will, but as of direct divine appointment and support, as being 
the completest and most comprehensive providential mission- 
aiy institute. 

And what is this institute? What is the gehenna of disci- 
pline on earth, by the passing of the soul through which, 
God's providence is impiously affirmed to have appointed the 
African race to salvation, and constituted the kidnappers and 
slaveholders of the United States his ordained and sancti- 
fied missionaries? It is the reproduction of the most bar- 
barous system of slavery ever endured in the pagan world. 
The reader has but to consult the customary authorities, and 
he will be appalled at the exactitude of the sameness of Ro- 
man and American slavery.* 

Whether we take the definition of slavery from the es- 
sence of the crime of man-stealing, the claim of property in 

* See Stroud and others on the 
laws relating to slavery. Among the 
Eomans, more particularly, slaves 
were held, pro nullis, pro mortuis, 
pro quadrupedibus, for no men, for 
dead men, for leasts, nay, were in 
a much worse state than any cattle 
whatever. They had no head in 
- the state, no name, no tribe, or reg- 
ister. They were not capable of be- 
ing injured, nor could they take aught 
by purchase or descent ; they had no 
heirs, and could make no will. Ex- 
clusive of what was called their pe- 
culium, whatever they acquired was 
their master's ; they could neither plead 
nor be pleaded for, but were entirely 
excluded from all civil concerns ; were 
not entitled to the rights of matri- 
mony, and therefore had no relief in 
case of adultery ; nor were they prop- 
er objects of cognation or affinity. 
They might be sold, transferred, or 
pawned, like other goods or personal 
estate ; for goods they were, and as 
such they were esteemed. — Com- 

pare Fuss, Taylor, Becker, Es- 
CHENBEBG, Horxe, and others. 

Compare the accounts of these au- 
thorities with the slave laws of the 
Southern States, or with the elaborate 
reports of State trials, revealing the 
rjature of slavery, as, for example, the 
striking case of Bayley versus Poin- 
dexter, in Virginia. Compare also 
the modes of punishment, the consti- 
tuted scourgers and torturers. The 
burning of slaves to death is certain- 
ly worse than the feeding of fishes 
with their flesh, which is the climax 
of horror, in the judgment of Seneca, 
on the cruelty of Vedius Pollio. But 
in the Roman Pandects burning alive 
is also mentioned as a punishment. 
Compare, on the point of the negation 
of marital rights, and the impossibility 
of relief in the case of adultery, the 
judgment of the court in the trial of 
Sickles, in "Washington, and the oppo- 
site conclusion of a similar trial of a 
black man at the same time in Balti- 


man", which, wherever assumed and enforced, though under 
sanction of law, constitutes the pretended owner of such pre- 
tended property a manstealer ; or from tile elementary 
crimes against God and man involved in it and resulting from 
it, but dignified by some with the nomenclature of abuses of 
slavery; or from the rigid terms of the slave code itself; we 
find it alike incompatible with Christianity, and reprobated 
and forbidden by it. There is no such oppression or sin ad- 
mitted or tolerated in the Bible. There is no term for it in 
the Hebrew Scriptures ; but the reality of it, as described by 
its elements, is forbidden on pain of death. 

We have seen the proof of all this in the Mosaic laws, il- 
lustrated and enforced in the Prophets. Now in entering 
upon the New Testament, we come directly from the latest 
utterances of divine inspiration in the Old, not to find those 
utterances disregarded, or denied, or repealed, not to find 
ourselves confounded by a system of social wickedness re- 
ceived into Christ's church, and taught by his apostles, against 
which every attribute of God had been pointed from the be- 
ginning. We find the divine law in full force, with all its pre- 
cepts of benevolence^ and all its penalties. The laws against 
stealing and making merchandise of men, the laws against 
oppression, the commands to love thy neighbor and the stran- 
ger as thyself, to break every yoke, to deliver the oppressed, 
to betray not the outcast, to shelter the fugitive, were familiar 
to the Jews, were read in the synagogues.* Our blessed 

* Piudeaux's Connexion, vol. i., p. they had not before. After that cap- 

309. — " If it be examined into," says tivity, and the return of the Jews 

Prideaux, " how it came to pass that from it, synagogues being erected 

the Jews were so prone to idolatry among them in every city, to which 

before the Babylonish captivity, and they constantly resorted for public 

so strongly and cautiously, even to worship, and where every week they 

superstition, fixed against it after that had the law and the prophets read 

captivity, the true reason hereof will unto them, and were instructed in 

appear to be, that they had the law their duty, this kept them in a thor- 

and the prophets every week read ough knowledge of God and his laws . 

unto them after that captivity, which The threats which they found in the 


Lord, in the very first public announcement of his Messiah- 
ship, robed himself in these very Scriptures, and placed upon 
his own head this crown ; himself the promised Deliverer, the 
Consoler and Redeemer, to break every yoke, and fulfill the 
"acceptable year," the jubilee year, of the Lord. 

There was no slavery in Judea ; there could not have been, 
except by the renewal and successful accomplishment of a 
crime, the very attempt at which had been followed of God 
with the captivity of the whole people, accompanied by 
sword, famine and the pestilence. There was now no more 
need of mentioning slavery by name than there had been in 
the Old Testament ; but it was anew forbidden in its ele- 
ments, and finally rendered impossible all over the world, by 
the injunctions of divine inspiration upon masters. Render 


great law of Christian abolitionism. 

Now what could be thought of a Christian man's mind or 
piety if such a man were asked whether oppression was to be 
regarded as a sin against God, and should make answer that 
it could not be regarded as sinful in itself, but only in its cir- 
cumstances, only in its abuses ? What are the abuses of 
oppression? It "will be acknowledged that oppression is for- 
bidden in the word of God. "We are instructed to pray for 
deliverance from oppression, because it is a state so hostile to 
a life of piety, so unfavorable to the keeping of God's com- 
mands. What is true of oppression in any of its forms must 
be true of the highest degree of oppression. If it is oppres- 

prophets against the breakers of the stated reading services. And Paul 

lawa deterred them from transgres- disputed and taught incessantly in 

sing against them." their synagogues, and afterwards dai- 

The same may be said of the en- ly in the school of Tyrannus. The di- 

tire ceasing of any violation of the rect testimony of God against slavery 

laws against slavery. James informs could neither have been unknown 

us that Moses had of old in every nor passed by in silence, neither could 

city those that preached him ; and it the rights of servants, as protected in 

was not on the Sabbath merely, but the Old Testament, have been ignored 

three days in the week, that they had in the New. 


sion to compel a man to serve without wages, it is certainly 
a still greater oppression to sell him for money. If it is op- 
pression to take away a man's property, it is still greater op- 
pression to use the man himself as property, to convert him 
into merchandise for another's profit, and to make it impos- 
sible for him to possess any thing in his own right. If op- 
pression is forbidden at all in the word of God, then this 
highest kind of oppression is forbidden. And if it be a sin 
in itself, a sin per se, to take away a man's wages, or to de- 
prive him of any of his rights, it is not less a sin per se to take 
away all his rights, to reduce him to such a condition that by 
law he has no rights, can plead none, but is a mere thing, a 
chattel, at the disposal and for the profit of his owner. 

Now, by what defiance of God and his truth and righteous- 
ness, or by what moral insanity, or by what judicial blindness 
of depravity, dare men aver, or can they aver, that while op- 
pression is forbidden of God, slavery is not ; that while the 
oppression of a man is sinful, the holding of him as a slave is 
not sinful? How can any man, not an idiot, affirm that while 
oppression is denounced of God, slavery is commanded ? or 
that while in the Old Testament slavery is forbidden, and 
every one of its elements reprobated as under God's hatred 
and wrath, in the New Testament it is sanctioned and legal- 
ized as under God's favor ? If this extreme slander were true, 
then would the old dispensation, under the law, be proved 
more benevolent and kind, more loving and merciful, more 
just and righteous, than the new, under the gospel. 

Under the Old Testament dispensation men were forbidden, 
on pain of death, to take, hold, or sell human beings as prop- 
erty. The taking of a man as a slave, against his own con- 
sent, was the stealing of him, not from another person, but 
from himself. Under the new dispensation it is affirmed by 
some that all this crime is not only not forbidden, but sanc- 
tioned, and that those who committed it, instead of being ar- 
raigned as criminals, were permitted to continue in it, to hold 


slaves, and, of course, to do every thing with them that hy the 
law of slavery may be done, to hold them or to sell them as 
property at the master's sole will and pleasure ; and that such 
stealers, holders and sellers of men as property were received 
into the Christian church, this their wickedness not being for- 
bidden, but received and sanctioned along with them. 

Under the Old Testament dispensation the right of servants 
to escape from bondage was admitted, and men were forbid- 
den to return them into bondage when so escaped, but were 
commanded to aid and to shelter them, and not to oppress 
them. It would be oppressing them in the highest degree to 
return them into bondage; and the law of God that they 
should not be so returned proved that no creature had any 
right of ownership in them, but that they themselves had the 
most perfect right of ownership in themselves, and the right 
to take themselves away, to assert and take their own free- 
dom. To take this right away from them, and deliver them 
up into slavery, would be again the crime of stealing them. 

Under the new dispensation it is asserted by the apologists 
for slavery under the gospel, that slaves must not escape from 
their masters, that they have no right to their freedom, that 
if they do escape they must be captured and sent back into 
slavery, especially if their owners were members of the Chris- 
tian church. It is asserted that both they, as slaves, and their 
masters as their owners, were together members of Christian 
churches, and being such, having been admitted as such, the 
law of Christianity sanctions slavery as right, and forbids the 
slave from escaping and the Christian from sheltering him if 
he escapes. 

The amount of this is, that while, under Moses, under the law 
of God as given by Moses, oppression was forbidden as* sinful, 
under Christ oppression is baptized and sanctioned as a Chris- 
tian grace. Under Moses the worst kind of oppression, that of 
slavery and the man-stealing, by which slavery is created and 
maintained, was branded as a crime to be punished by death. 


Under Christ and the gospel the injunction against it is re- 
moved, and it is not only consecrated by the Christian sacra- 
ments, the seal of the church's sanction being put upon it, but 
it becomes sinful for Christian men to speak against it as sin. 
The gospel of Christ becomes, in fact, a deliverance to do thoso 
very abominations which the law of God punished with death ; 
a license of selfishness and cruelty, a freedom to sin, and to 
violate the law of love. The slaveholders in the Christian 
church, and they who sanction this crime as consistent with 
the gospel, as a crime admitted without rebuke into the 
churches of the New Testament, do really declare that the 
law was imperfect, but that Jesus was made a surety of a 
better testament, a high priest of good things to come, of a 
temple of liberty for the enslaving of men, into which we 
have boldness to enter as into the holiest, and to take our 
slaves with us, Christ having brought in this better hope, this 
diviner freedom, blotting out the hand-writing of ordinances 
that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out 
of the way, nailing it to his cross. 

It is claimed now, that whatever might be the meaning, 
or necessity of the Mosaic laws against slavery, or in behalf 
of escaping servants, and against any claim of their masters 
for their restoration ; and whatever might be the inspiration of 
the Prophets and the Psalms against kidnapping and catching 
men, or holding and selling them as merchandise, or the com- 
mands of God to give liberty to the enslaved, to break every 
yoke, and let the oppressed go free ; that, nevertheless, under 
the new law of love in the New Testament, Christ and the 
gospel, replace and sanctify the bonds, and forbid them to be 
broken ; admitting into the Christian church those very op- 
pressors that under the law were excommunicated from it, 
and those very realities of oppression that under the law Avere 
branded as crimes worthy of death. 

It is averred that Christ's own silence on the subject of 
this sin gives consent to it. Christ Avas silent in regard to the 


sin of sodomy, in regard to infanticide, in regard to idolatry ; 
and by this method of reasoning, not only is the law of God 
against these crimes abolished, and the crimes themselves 
made innocent by such silence, but he that speaks against 
them, when Christ did not, is himself guilty of a presumptu- 
ous sin, and may think himself happy if he is not struck with 
some divine judgment. 

Now, dreadful as the blasphemy against the divine inspira- 
tion of the Old Testament has been, in asserting that slavery 
was sanctioned of God there, the blasphemy against Christ is 
worse, in asserting that the cast off vices under God's repro- 
bation in the laws of Moses and the prophets have been taken 
up, endorsed, patronized and received to Christian communion 
and credit, in the teachings of Christ and the apostles. What 
a signal and an execrable impiety, to contend that he who an- 
nounced the great rule of life, Whatsoever ye would that man 
should do to you, do ye even so to them ; and declared con- 
cerning the law, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, that 
upon this, along with the law of supreme love to God, hang 
all the law and the prophets, would and did at the same time 
admit into the Christian church, and sanction by his gospel, 
and establish as a custom of Christian life, the greatest viola- 
tion of that law! 

To maintain that Christ and his apostles would set up as a 
Christian institution, what Moses and the prophets had for- 
bidden on pain of death, what they had put in the same cat- 
egory of sin with the worship of Moloch, of Baal, of Dagon, 
what they had classified with sodomy and matricide, is to 
introduce into divine revelation a profaneness and confusion 
worse than that which is denounced of God in the 18th of 
Leviticus and the 27th of Deuteronomy. As the land itself 
vomiteth out her inhabitants guilty of such defilement, so the 
unsophisticated moral sense, in the least degree enlightened 
above the ignorance and darkness of savage life, would reject 
a revelation burdened with such enormities, especially a gospel 


that pretending to remove men's sins, introduces a system of 
avarice and cruelty, and admits iniquities as elements of Chris- 
tian grace and fellowship, that even a previous, imperfect and 
preparatory system of religion cast out as abominable in God's 
sight. In truth, the gospel could not be received as of God, 
could not but be rejected, under such burdens of impiety, if 
the moral sense of men did not assure them that the lcj:>rosies 
thus foisted into the authority of God's word are a corruption 
of its purity. 

In the first preaching of the gospel, the word of God in the 
Old Testament was the standard of Christ and the apostles. 
It was their storehouse of proofs, texts, doctrines, arguments. 
Our blessed Lord himself was wont to answer questions of 
conscience and of casuistry by a direct appeal to the Old 
Testament Scriptures. What is written in the law ? How 
readest thou ? 

Furthermore, the apostle informed Timothy that he must 
take the law in its particulars, and aj>ply it to men-stealees, 
and to any other thing contrary to sound doctrine, accord- 
ing to the gospel. Nothing could be plainer. True gospel 
preaching was that which applied the law to the consciences 
of men to bring them to Christ. 

The disciples everywhere were commanded to search the 
word of God, and to hold fast what they found there. The 
oracles of God were to be consulted, that they might know 
his will, and approve the things that were more excellent, 
being instructed out of the law, and able to reprove the 
darkness of the world and the sins by which it was filled with 

It was the prayer of our Lord Jesus, Sanctify them by thy 
truth; thy word is truth. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon 
me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the 
poor ; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach 
deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the 
blind ; to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the 


acceptable year of the Lord." It is impossible tbat he should 
habitually, in the synagogues, expound such passages as the 
Cist chapter of Isaiah, and instruct his disciples to preserve 
a politic silence as to the sins which those passages rebuke, as 
to tlie oppressions which they forbid, since it was plain to all 
that the 58th and 59th chapters particularized the very sins 
of which the 61st proclaimed the remedy. He never taught 
his disciples to be afraid of announcing to the whole world 
under the gospel any thing that the prophets were command- 
ed to communicate under the law. On the contrary, " What 
I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light, and what ye 
hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And 
fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the 

He would not permit his preachers to consult human preju- 
dices, or to take human laws or customs for their guide in 
preaching. He would not suffer the word of God to be made 
of none effect by human precept or tradition. " In vain do 
they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments 
of men." The teaching of human slavery, the admission of 
it into the church of God, the implication of its just authority, 
would have set the gospel against the law, the morality of the 
New Testament against that of the Old, the conscience in- 
structed by the ajiostles against that instructed of God in his 
word. The admission of human slavery, the wickedest crea- 
tion of human law, is one of the most dreadful examples on 
record of making the word of God of none effect, not merely 
by the power of tradition, but the licensing of crime ; one 
of the most sweeping and destructive instances ever known 
of the corruption of piety and the debasement of God's wor- 
ship, by teaching for doctrines the commandments of men ; 
nay, it is the doctrines of devils set in the place of God's 
teachings ; for human slavery, in its perfection, defiles and 
destroys all the commandments of the decalogue. If there 
were this fatal incongruity and opposition between the Old 


and New Testaments on so vital a question as that of the na- 
ture of sin or its treatment ; if the Old were distinguished hy 
the fear of offending God, but the New by the fear of offend- 
ing man ; if the Old spoke out fearlessly against men's sins, 
while the New took up the line of a cautious policy, making 
the great rule of preaching the truth to be the rule of giving 
none offense to any man, and carefully concealing such truths 
as might produce disturbance ; then would the proof of a di- 
vine inspiration be greatly weakened, if not wholly destroyed, 
and one half of God's word would be effectually neutralized by 
the other. But there is no such imperfection, no such contra- 

On the contrary, Paul expressly denounces all such carnal, 
fearful, dishonest policy, abhorring either the concealment or 
corruption of the word of God, by flattering words and the 
cloak of covetousness. " We have renounced the hidden 
things of dishonesty ; not walking in craftiness, nor handling 
the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the 
truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in 
the sight of God." It was the very object of God, by the 
power of the truth, with the Holy Spirit, to produce a fear- 
less, holy, testifying church ; and he committed the truth 
to his people, with the assurance of the Holy Spirit to accom- 
pany it, that they might conquer the world in righteousness. 
What a monstrous conclusion, therefore, to suppose that 
through the fear of persecution or disturbance God would 
have the preachers of the gospel keep back or veil the 
righteousness of his word ! How absurd to suppose that 
the work of the new inspiration would be to make men 
afraid of the old ! that the work of the Comforter would be 
to teach men to hide what God had revealed, and to keep 
back, from a cunning expediency, through fear of trouble, 
what he had instructed the old prophets to proclaim in the 
face of death ! 


The Argument op Silence Considered.— The Same Argument as to other Monstros- 
ities Under Roman Law. — Infanticide. — Wives as Property.— New Testament 
Reprobation op Slavery from the Old. — The Divine Reprobation of American 
Slavery, and Light as to our Duty. 

From the large space given to the denunciation of the sin 
of oppression in the Old Testament, and from the fact of the 
crime of slavery having been extirpated from the land of 
Judea, we should not expect to find it often referred to, or 
by name prohibited, in the New Testament. If Ave should 
find a perfect silence in regard to it, this silence could not be 
pleaded in its favor. If the Saviour never encountered it, 
there would be no occasion for him to denounce it by name. 
It would be a monstrous conclusion to aver, on this account, 
that he did not agree in the reprobation of it by the word of 
God in the Old Testament. If the mere absence of a pro- 
hibition of any sin by the Saviour and his apostles is to be 
taken for a justification of it, thei'e is almost no crime that in 
some form may not be justified. When John was beheaded 
by Herod, the disciples of the murdered prophet took up his 
body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. Not a word 
did he say in condemnation of that murder. Are we there- 
fore to conclude that an oath to commit murder, and a murder 
committed for the keeping of such an oath, are right, or that 
in a ruler they are excusable or acceptable before God, or that, 
when we see such crimes committed, we are to keep silence 
in regard to them, and on no account to rebuke them ? Or 
would it be proper to conclude that Christ and his apostles 
never taught any thing against particular sins but what is 
recorded in the New Testament ? 


The three great relations in private life, says Blackstone, 
are, 1. That of master and servant ; 2. That of husband and 
wife ; 3. That of parent and child. He then goes on to con- 
sider the responsibilities and duties, the rights and obligations 
of all these parties.* 

Under the Roman law, slavery being legitimate, the slave 
had no rights, and the master could treat him as a thing or a 
brute beast at pleasure. Under the same law the husband 
had almost unlimited control over the wife, exercising the au- 
thority of an absolute despot, even in the matter of life and 
death. By the same system the power of the father over his 
children was that of the master over his slaves ; he could sell 
his children, could imprison, scourge or punish them in any 
manner, however atrocious, even after they were grown up.f 
He might decree them to death when born, if he preferred 
not to rear them, infanticide being thus as legitimate an ele- 
ment of paternal authority as the breeding of slaves is of the 
domestic slavery in the United States. The children were 
considered, like slaves, part and parcel of the goods of their 
father, so that they might be disposed of by him just like 
slaves or cattle. With respect to the right of sale, they were 
in a worse position than even slaves, in that they were re- 
leased from his power only after a thrice repeated act of sell- 
ing. Likewise, " as any thing became a person's property, by 
being possessed by him for a certain space of time, so a wife 
became the lawful property of her husband." He could re- 
pudiate her at pleasure.;]; 

Now, in every one of these relations, the Roman laws and 
customs stood point blank opposed against the divine law. 
In neither of them could any other rule be right than that of 
a divine revelation. In every one of them there is clear and 
explicit instruction in the Old Testament. If now, in the New 

* Blackstone's Comm., cli. iv. 

f Gibbon's Decline and Fall, ch. xliv. 

X Fuss' Roman Antiquities. Sec. 82, 476, 481. 


Testament, the filial relation or the marriage relation is recog- 
nized as of God, and its duties are enjoined under his au- 
thority, while, nevertheless, the sacred writers are perfectly 
silent as to the abuses of those relations, and the crimes com- 
mitted against them under the law of the Romans, will such 
silence answer for the allowance and sanctification of such 
abuses ? Can an argument be sustained that because neither 
our Lord nor the apostles denounced the despotism of the 
father 0A T er the child, and of the husband over the wife, there- 
fore the divinely appointed paternal and marital authority in- 
cluded and sanctioned that despotism ? Could it be argued, 
because wives are commanded to obey their husbands, that 
therefore the Roman institution of marriage was ordained of 
God ? or because children are to obey their parents, therefore 
the fathers have the right to sell or put to death their chil- 
dren ? No more can an argument be sustained that because 
our Lord and his apostles taught servants to obey their mas- 
ters, therefore they were the property of their masters ; or 
because our Lord and his apostles did not say that Roman 
slavery was wrong, therefore both it and American slavery 
are right, and have the sanction of the Almighty. 

Yet this very argument of silence is relied upon for the 
defense of slavery, as being a system not inconsistent with 
Christianity ! It is affirmed that the Lord Jesus Christ did not 
rebuke slavery, and therefore it is presumption in any human 
being to denounce it as sin. Neither did the Lord Jesus re- 
buke idolatry. These apologists for slavery probably are not 
aware that never in one of the evangelists is to be found a 
word against idolatry, no testimony of Christ against it, nor 
any direction to preach his gospel against it. Does this prove 
that therefore idolatry is not inconsistent with Christianity, 
or that because Christ did not denounce idolaters, therefore 
it is presumption in us to proclaim the gospel against them ? 
Does this prove that true piety includes idolatry as one of its 
elements? Just as clearly it proves this, as our Lord's 


silence on the subject of slavery proves that the true divinely 
appointed system of domestic service includes the right of 
property in man, the right of holding men as slaves. 

The most earnest defenders of the Bible against the charge 
of sanctioning slavery, instead of throwing themselves upon 
the truth, instead of demonstrating the reprobation of slavery, 
have resorted to the supposition of a most unworthy expedi- 
ency in concealing the judgment of God against this sin. 
Even Mr. Barnes has intimated that if the apostles had pro- 
claimed in so many words that slavery was a heinous sin in 
the sight of God, they would have been regarded as disturb- 
ers of the public peace, etc. If it had been conceded to be a 
wrong, then the apostles might with true expediency have de- 
nounced it as sinful, for it would be plain that it could not be 
tolerated for a moment. But it is argued that while it was 
not yet admitted to be wrong, it was expedient for them to 
avoid its repx - obation !* 

Now it is unaccountable that the great fact should be so com- 
pletely overlooked, that in the very reference of their hearers 
to the word and will of God, on this subject, they did repro- 
bate slavery ; they could not possibly avoid it. They did this as 
plainly as they reprobated murder. Paul did it when he in- 
structed Timothy how to preach the gospel. He referred him 
back to the law of God against men-stealers. He referred him 
to that law as in full force. Indeed, to what and to whom does 
our Lord Jesus himself continually refer all men, as the rule 
of duty, the guide of life, under all circumstances ? to the 
Old Testament Scriptures, to the law of God, to the words 
of God by Moses and the prophets. When a man became a 
Christian, if he were a Jew he knew that slavery was for- 
bidden ; if he were a Pagan, he was referred to the word of 
God for instruction. He could not be a Christian without 
studying that word, and in it he would find that the oppres- 
sion of his servants in any way was forbidden of God, and 

* Barnes on Slavery, page 291, etc. 


that the holding of them as slaves, as property, was forbidden 
on pain of death. 

Men say, " Show us some instances of dealing with slave- 
holders in the apostolic churches. If we only had one such 
case it would be a guide." 

The epistle to Philemon is precisely such a case. It was 
given for that very purpose. If Onesimus were once a slave, 
then it is incontrovertibly a declaration that he could no longer 
be held as such. If Philemon had been a slaveholder while a 
Pagan, it is plain that he could not be such as a Christian. 

If men will resist such evidence, or distrust it, in support 
of a practice known to be wrong, stronger evidence would be 
of little avail. It is one of the qualities of divine light not 
to force itself upon the soul ; but if, having eyes, men see 
not, and ears, they hear not, neither will they be persuaded 
though one rose from the dead. 

God did rebuke and forbid this iniquity plainly enough. 
And now for men to say, It is not set down by name, there- 
fore it is not sinful, argues not doubt, but obstinate blind- 

When the crime of slavery disappears from the world it 
will not be imagined that the Bible ever sanctioned it in any 
way. It is not named by name in the New Testament, neither 
is it in the Old Testament ; but the act in the Old Testament 
is denounced, and this edict against it is referred to in the 
New. One whole epistle on this subject is enough ; and if 
in any previous epistles it had not been referred to, it would 
be because the divine Spirit knew that that epistle was to be 
added. The principles laid down forbade slavery utterly, and 
rendered it impossible. What need of any thing more ? In 
the first churches not a slaveholder was to be found. Jewish 
masters were not slaveholders, and they certainly did not be- 
come such on becoming Christians. 

To teach a sin as expedient, or to leave a gross iniquity 
doubtful, would be to destroy the possibility of holiness. 


God will beax* with a small amount of piety ; but he will not 
endure a corrupted piety, a perversion of it. He can save by 
a little truth ; but he will not endure error in the place of 
truth. He can endure with much long suffering the vessels 
of wrath fitted for destruction ; but when sin comes to be 
vaunted as holiness, when it is taken into the church, it is 
death. If a wickedness be fallen into, but admitted, con- 
fessed, it may be pardoned ; but when it is taught as of God, 
when doctrines of devils are boasted to have the sanction of 
the Saviour, then indeed it is time for God to work. If the 
foundations be destroyed what can the righteous do ? 

Here then, in the Old and New Testaments, we find, on this 
subject, the leading elementary statutes laid down, the neces- 
sary result of God's own justice, and the determination of what 
is just and right among men. It is impossible that these 
principles can be just and righteous in one age, and unjust, 
unrighteous and impracticable in another, or just and right- 
eous for the government of a nation of two millions of 
people, but unjust and unrighteous for a nation of thirty 
millions. It is impossible that what in God's view was just 
and benevolent between man and man eighteen hundred years 
before the coming of Christ, can be unjust and unbenevolent, 
or its obligation nullified, eighteen hundred years after Christ. 
But if there were any doubt, the matter is decided by distinct 
reference to these very laws as our rule of duty under the 
gospel ; and the Old Testament Scriptures, in all their parts 
and detail, are said to have been given and written for our in- 
struction, and to be profitable for our discovery and applica- 
tion of God's righteousness. 

And when an apostle by divine inspiration commands mas- 
ters everywhere to give unto their servants that which is just 
and equal, it is not merely that which the natural conscience, 
uninstructed by the divine word, affirms or intimates to be 
just and equal, which would be a rule unreliable, uncertain 
and variable in the extreme, differing according to every 


man's moral character and notions of exj^ediency, but that 
which the word of God declares and defines to be just and 
equal, that which the Old Testament Scriptures reveal and 
enjoin on this very subject as the will of God. And the very 
first article of that justice and equality or equity is, that no 
man shall hold or treat any other man as property, that no 
human being shall make merchandise of man. And a second 
great ruling article of justice and equality from masters to 
servants is, that no man shall use his servant's service with- 
out wages, stipulated wages, according to mutual bargain 
and agreement, on grounds of equality and justice on both 

It is beyond question that the minuteness and particularity 
of detail in the statutes and commentaries of the Old Testa- 
ment, on this great commanding subject of human economy 
and morals, were intended for all future time, and not for the 
Jews or the Jewish dispensation merely. Not more certain is 
it that the profound and inexhaustible mines of coal, now 
being wrought for the wants of the world's inhabitants, were 
laid up by creative and forseeing wisdom for the supply of 
those wants, and were designed to be used, as men are now 
using them, for the progress of civilization and social comfort, 
than that the instructive, comprehensive, far-reaching princi- 
ples and laws in reference to domestic service, inwrought in 
the revelation of the Old Testament, were set there for the 
instruction and guidance of this present age. And they are 
as much more important for our instruction and guidance 
now, and as much more obligatory on us for examination and 
obedience, than upon the Jews merely, as the character and 
welfare of a hundred millions of people are more important 
than of two millions. And the great obligation of righteous- 
ness resting now upon the church of God and the ministry is 
that of promulgating anew and enforcing in all their spiritual 
and universal authority these denied and impiously violated 


principles and laws of common morality and justice from 
man to man. 

We have among us a people branded as a strange race, a 
race set apart by our laws, prejudices, judicial decisions, for 
moral assassination and destruction ; a race crushed beneath 
the most horrible, hopeless, galling system of perpetual slavery 
the world ever knew ; a race consigued by our very religion 
— perverted for the purpose — as the subjects of avarice and 
rjroritable lust ; a race dehumanized, disfranchised of the very 
personality of manhood, for the purposes of uttermost and 
unimpeded oppression ; branded by law as things, that they 
may not have the rights and protection of persons, but ad- 
mitted by a fiction as persons, that they may be the subjects 
of such punishment and injury as mere things could not be; 
persons when their owners can be benefited by the fiction, 
things when themselves could have any defence against their 
owners, by being considered as persons. 

"We have this race of strangers, stolen at first, flung by 
piracy upon our shores, as smuggled goods might be thrown 
upon the beach by smugglers, to be snatched up and sold by 
shore thieves, complex in the crime ; stolen at first, propa- 
gated afterwards, and the race a stolen race ; every babe new 
born, new stolen, branded from the birth as property. We 
have this race, from whom we tear by human law the divine 
seals of marriage, and of parental and filial love and obliga- 
tions ; burning and searing from out even the mother's soul, 
by the sacrament of property, by the hot iron of that con- 
viction from the birth of belonging to another, even the ma- 
ternal instinct, so as to reduce it to the level of the mere 
animal impulse "of the hen or the partridge."* We have this 
race, whom we have so unnaturally defrauded even of the intelli- 
gence in which brutes might be nurtured, and so violently and 
perfectly divorced from that which belongs to their very nature 
by the ordinance of God as his children, that when they grow 

*See the testimony in the South Side View of Slavery, by Rev. Dr. Adams. 



up under our nurture and admonition, under the training of 
the slave system, they are not able to conceive the nature of 
the parental or the filial relation, or the meaning of the sacred 
■word father !* 

"We have this race, concerning -which, the sentiment of per- 
verted justice, the instruction issued from the highest tri- 
bunal of justice in our country, is just this, that black men 
have no rights that white men are bound to respect ; and the 
social despotism and practice growing out of this judicial in- 
struction, the practical treatment of this devoted race, is the 
carrying into demonstration of the theory that they are stuff 
only for slaves, the lineal, legitimate subjects of interminable, 
nnalleviated, remorseless cruelty, hopeless because hereditary, 
and remorseless by the very aid of the church and its minis- 
ters sanctifying it with unction, in the name of the Lord ; 
pacifying and stupifying men's consciences with lies, daubing 
the walls and palaces of this iniquity with their untempered 

* Adams' South Side View.— The 
infamous maxim, partus sequitur ven- 
trem, is a manufacture of heathen 
slave law, adopted from Paganism, 
and baptized by slaveholding church- 
es in the name of Christ. It is as- 
serted by Christian theologians to be 
a maxim of nature, justice, religion 
and divine providence 1 Tet the very 
code of Roman law, out of which this 
diabolic doctrine is drawn, to be trans- 
figured with the sacredness of the 
Christian religion, contained also the 
admission that " all men by the law 
of nature are born in freedom ;" and 
slavery was defined as being " con- 
trary to natural right," and capable 
of being constituted only by positive 
law against the law of nature and of 
right. Moreover, " in order to deter- 
mine the question of a child's free- 
dom or servitude, the whole period of 
gestation was taken into view by the 

Roman jurists; and if at any time 
between conception and birth the 
mother had been for one instant free, 
the law, by a humane fiction, supposed 
the birth to have taken place then, 
aud held the infant to be free born." 
From all such mixtures of humanity, 
the slave laws of Rome, as adopted 
by a Christian people, are purified, 
and no instinct of benevolence is 
suffered to co-exist with them ; and 
that which even the natural con- 
science of a Pagan condemned as 
against nature and right, is declared 
to be the perfection of righteousness 
both natural and divine. — Report of 
Synod of North Carolina on Slavery* 
1851 ; Southern Presbyterian Re- 
view, 1857; Gibbon's Decline and 
Fall, chapter xliv. ; Edwards on 
Roman Slavery, Bib. Rep., vol. G, p. 
419; Becker, Rom. Ant., Slavery, 
Bib. Sacra, vol. 2. Potter, Gr. Ant. 


mortar, and promising peace and prosperity in such wicked- 

We have this race, a race ot strangers, and it is inevitable 
that we ask what are the principles and rules of conduct which 
God would have us adopt towards them. What is our duty 
to them in God's sight ? We turn to the Old Testament for 
light, and Ave find it written, " The stranger that dwelleth 
with you shall be unto you as one born among you ; and 
thou Shalt love him as thyself. Cursed be he that per- 
verteth the judgment of the stranger." 

We then say, by the logic of the gospel, by the inevitable 
enlargement, advance and comprehension of love from the 
Old Testament % to the New, that whatever obligations of 
tenderness, charity and kindness were imposed of God in 
reference to strangers upon the Hebrews, are double upon 
ourselves ; for all are one in Christ, and all brethren, neither 
Barbarian nor Scythian, nor bond, nor free, being any other 
than brethren, to be loved and treated alike as we, in similar 
cases, would be treated ourselves. Would we be held our- 
selves as slaves ? Would we, under any circumstances, con- 
sent or be willing to be the property of other men, as our 
owners ? If not, the logic of the gospel, the logic of love, 
declares our condemnation, if we hold others in slavery. Out 
of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant.* 

* On the wickedness of the maxim, spared to raise a cry against Mr. Wil- 
partus sequitur ventrem, See Stroud, berforce and the other friends of the 
Laws relating to Slavery, ch. L, and slaves in this country. It has become 
Prop. 12, p. 99; also Goodell's extremely difficult to counteract the 
American Slave Code, 83 and 248. effects of this powerful combination. 
Compare a passage on the atrocity of No man can venture to write in de- 
slave legislation, in the diary of Sir fence of the negroes without exposing 
Samuel Romilly (Memoirs, vol. hi., himself to a prosecution." This was 
pp. 337-343). "No pains have been written as late as 1818. 


With the Old Testament in Existence, ant new Command against Slavery Uk- 
necessakt.— The Absence of Slavery the Natural Result of the Old Testament 
Laws.— But if Slavery Had Been Sanctioned of God, it Would Have Filled 
the Land.— TnR Jurisprudence of the Land Would Have Been Occupied with 
it.— The Gospels Would Have Been Filled with Proofs and Pictures of it.— 
A State of Morals Would Have Been Found Such as Grows Out of it. 

We shall show that no argument can be set up in behalf 
of slavery from the Greek words used to describe the cus- 
tomary domestic service, as it was encountered by our Lord 
and his disciples in Judea. With the Mosaic laws and the 
prophets as the rule of faith and practice for the nation, and 
with the instructive record in Jeremiah xxxiv., slavery could 
not be tolerated. It can not be denied that the laws against 
man-stealing, holding and selling, were in full force. The laws 
against making merchandise of man prevented every possibil- 
ity of the slave traffic, which certainly did not exist. The law 
forbidding the restoration of fugitives was equally sacred, 
equally binding, and there is no proof of its having been dis- 
regarded or obsolete. The laws for the benevolent treatment 
of strangers were the same as at the beginning ; precepts as 
well known as any in the decalogue, and very distinctly re- 
ferred to by our Saviour. 

It was therefore not necessary in the Gospels to issue any 
new commands against the crime of slavery, with the pages 
of the prophets and the law blazing with denunciations against 
every one of its elements, and the original crime of slave- 
making condemned, along with the crime of murder, to the 
punishment of death. The possible existence of slavery 
under the Gospel, among those who admitted the authority 


of the Scriptures, was not even supposed ; and the instruc- 
tions given to masters in the New Testament rendered such 
an enormity as a Christian slaveholder, a man claiming prop- 
erty in man, and yet pretending to be a Christian, impos- 

From the latest utterances of Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Zecha- 
riah, Nehemiah and Malachi, under the solemn impression 
produced by their assurances of vengeance from the living 
God against an oppressing nation and people, we should ex- 
pect to find just what Ave do find in Judea, under our Lord's 
ministry, an entire absence of any indication of the existence 
or the practice of slaveholding. We should expect to find 
the very system of hired labor, and of voluntary domestic 
service, which we do find. Our Saviour no more encounters 
slavery than he does idolatry in the land. And the fact of its 
absence from Judea, the fact of the singular freedom of this 
people from this one sin, with all its train of abominations, 
while the whole Roman world was filled with it, and groaning 
under its 'oppressions, would of itself go far to prove that it 
must have been, forbidden in the Jewish law. Nothing less 
than the strictest divine prohibition could have kept it out, 
could have kept the avaricious nobles and landholders from a 
traffic so lucrative as that in slaves, from a claim so infernally 
attractive as that of property in man. 

If God had, by divine revelation, given over a race of hu- 
man beings into the possession of another race, to be enslaved 
by them, and their posterity converted into chattels, stamped 
and used as property, bought, sold, conveyed as merchandise, 
put into social pens, or contuberniums, and propagated as the 
most valuable of all stock ; the stock, its increase, and the 
privilege and the right of breeding, being constituted and 
transmitted as an inheritance for the children and children's 
children, of the dominant race, to the latest generation, thus 
appointed as slaveholders by the Almighty ; if such had been 
the will of a pretended divine revelation, accepted as such, 


there would have been some trace left of the operation of such 
an edict, such a will ; there must have been some remnant of 
an estate so vast, so inalienable, so multiplying. 

A property thus sacred and self-propagating, devised and 
appointed of God as a legacy to his own chosen people, could 
not be, or become, like other riches, which take to themselves 
wings ; they could no more fly away and disappear, or evap- 
orate, than the landed estates of Judea could go off in ele- 
mental smoke, or the mountain ranges of Horeb and Sinai 
could soar away on wings as eagles. The land would have 
been full of this heaven-sanctioned human wealth ; for of all 
kinds of wealth and modes of money making, this would have 
constituted the sole exception to the great and terrible 
rule, that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of 
a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of 

Although a merchant with his camel could not, yet a drove 
of slaves, a procession reaching from the open door of the 
ark on Ararat to the river of Egypt and the last day, would 
be " bound for the kingdom," and the owner would drive in, 
as God's under shepherd, in the care of a property more sa- 
cred than the cattle on a thousand hills. The love of money 
in this shape — an inheritance devised of God and sent down 
to posterity, and his own people constituted his trustees and 
owners for themselves and for their children — so far from 
being the root of all evil, would be the spring perennial of 
ever growing good. 

It is impossible, under these circumstances, but that such a 
vine, so planted of God, and cultivated under his command 
and blessing, must have filled the land with its fruit, must 
have been like the vine which he brought out of Egypt, send- 
ing her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river. 
The hills would have been covered with the shadow of it, and 
the boughs thereof would have heen like the goodly cedars. 
For God himself, having prepared room before it, and issued 


orders for its treatment, would have caused it to take deep root, 
and to fill the land. And every owner, every heritor of such 
consecrated property, every trustee for his children of such 
investments in the merchandise of immortality, would have 
been seized and inspired with a holy greed of gain, a sancti- 
fied and sanctifying avarice of such possessions. 

It is impossible that under such securities and safeguards, 
such insurances not only of the property in perpetuity, but 
such guarantees for its demaud, such provisions for a never- 
failing ambition after it, such pledges for a perpetual high 
rate of such stock in the market, such a commanding high 
price, and contrary to the rule of money among the Hebrews, 
such a living inalienable usury reverting to the owner ; it is 
impossible that this species of property, of all others, should 
have ceased out of existence. 

And if it had not ceased, but, according to the pretended 
sanction and command of God, had gone on increasing from 
generation to generation, then there would have been some 
evidence of its existence. A continually increasing body of 
jurisprudence would have been requisite in regard to it; just 
as, in our own country, the growth of such jurisprudence has 
filled the land, and overtopped and borne down all other laws 
as inferior, till in the short space of less than a century it asserts 
and holds supremacy in the United States Supreme Court of 
Justice, and interprets and commands the Constitution. A 
system of legislation for it, not against it, would have been 
seen, not only at its foundation, but growing up from it, 
springing out of it, necessitated by it, every step of the 

There never yet was a nation in which slavery was a funda- 
mental institution, sanctioned, admired, venerated and profit- 
able, and boasting of the seal of heaven, where it did not 
enlarge and increase ; never one, where its patronage and 
care did not constitute and occupy the ruling policy; never 
one where its laws did not stand out unmistakable and severe ; 


never one where its existence and its progress were not pal- 
pable, as a matter of undeniable history. 

But in the Jewish state there is no such race, nor any trace 
of its existence ; there is no such legislation, but the contrary ; 
there is no such history, nor any appearance or action of the 
institution or element of slavery, or the propagation or in- 
crease of a slave population. There are none of the inevitable 
and unmistakable signs, concomitants and consequences of 
such an institution ; no markets for human beings, nor mer- 
chandise in them, nor any traces of the existence or acknowl- 
edgment of such property, in any transactions of wills, invest- 
ments, exchanges, appraisements, mortgages, sheriffs' sales, 
settlements of estates ; not to speak again of what in the very 
constitution of the Jewish State was rendered impossible, 
the hunting for fugitives, the provisions against their es- 
cape, the securities for their recapture, trial, and return into 

Much use has been attempted of the argument of silence, 
alleged especially in the New Testament. But this argument, 
in view of the certainty that if slavery had been a thing sanc- 
tioned of God it must, by the fifteen hundredth year of the 
Jewish State, by the process of patronage and propagation 
through fifteen centuries from Moses to Christ, have filled the 
land, comes to be of prodigious power against the possibility 
of its existence. There would be no possibility of writing five 
books of Greek, Roman, or Egyptian history, so frank, une- 
laborate, unaffected, so full of pictures of every-day life, such 
a series of photographs of customs, laws, social, domestic and 
civil manners, institutions and observances, so artless, so with- 
out concealment, so self-evidencing in reality and truth, and 
so full of knowledge and instruction as the Gospels, and the 
Acts of the Apostles, without the omnipresent and prominent 
institution and customs of slavery in those countries coming 
out, and the sentiments, morals and manners produced by it, 
as well as the laws governing it, and keeping down the vie- 


tims of its cruelty. There would be no possibility, if it had 
been an ordinance appointed of God, and existing fifteen hun- 
dred years, of having it left in doubt, or capable of being 
brought in question, whether it was a reality in the land, or 
whether Christ and his apostles approved or disapproved 
of it. Silence in regard to it, and the exclusion of its evi- 
ence from the pages of such historic volumes, could only be 
effected by stratagem, by art, and maintained for a pur- 
pose, by a violence of concealment contrary to historic 

Before the Grecian and Roman empires have attained one 
half the duration of the kingdom of the Jews, the germ of 
slavery has grown among them from a seed to a forest. 
Without being divinely planted or appointed, without any 
assertion or pretence on the part of historians or commen- 
tators on the laws and institutions of those States, of its ever 
having been revealed from heaven as a divine inheritance, or 
a social oppression agreeable to the divine will, slavery runs 
on as if it were indeed divine, and it only takes a few centu- 
ries to absorb nearly all forms of domestic service in the un- 
paid, enforced, unmitigated condition and institution of abso- 
lute chattelism. Slavery characterizes and fills the country, 
through the enforced ignorance and immorality of the slaves, 
and inevitable pride, luxury and cruelty of their owners, with 
all its peculiarities of law, licentiousness, despotism, and every 
abomination. Its presence can not be concealed, and its pro- 
gress is as the slow consuming stream of lava down garden 
slopes and vineyards to the sea. 

According to Gibbon, the number of slaves in the Roman 
empire had increased, under the reign of Claudius, till it 
equalled the number of free inhabitants. From the time of 
Augustus to Justinian there may be reckoned three slaves to 
one freeman, so that, out of a whole population of twenty-eight 
millions in Italy, twenty-one millions may be set down as 


slaves. The prodigality of wealth in this single species of 
property (revealed from heaven as an abomination worthy of 
death) came to be, where a divine revelation was unknown, 
almost incredible. Ten and twenty thousand slaves were 
sometimes owned by one person. 

Out of all this there "grew what might have been expected, 
under the darkness of Paganism, but what must have been still 
worse had the sin been perpetrated along with Judaism, and 
what must be worse than either, if it be maintained under the 
light of Christianity, a state of society unexampled since the 
deluge, for its revelry, abandonment and wantonness of de- 
pravity. Inhumanity and cruelty in sentiment and on princi- 
ple carried to an art ; the tenderness even of woman's nature 
changed into a fiendlike insensibility, or even delight, in the 
infliction of pain on others; inventions of new atrocities, subtle 
and devilish, cruelties practiced for mere variety of recrea- 
tion ; man-stealing, sodomy, pederasty, all those iniquities 
and abominable hideous caricatures and deliriums of depravity 
hinted at in the Epistle to the Romans ; fornication and adul- 
tery established in a svstem of law, in the forbidding of the 
matrimonial contract among slaves, just as at the South ; all 
the tempests and fermentations in the State, and in social life, 
consequent on such abominations, and developed in history ; 
rebellions, insurrections, devastations, servile wars, vast mas- 
sacres, tortures, crucifixions, amphitheatrical butcheries, gladi- 
atorial wholesale murders for the people's sports ; luxury, 
idleness, dissolution, along with the malignity and cruelty of 
fiends, taught and fostered both in the higher and lower 
classes ; barbarity and licentiousness perfected into a science, 
but the victims of such ferocity and lust unconsciously revenging 
themselves, as a dead body sometimes does upon its dissect- 
ors ; fatal diseases fostered and festering, pestilences raging in 
the body, as well as sins gangrening in the soul, and making 
society a mass of moral putridity and misery. Such was the 
result of slavery in Rome ; such would have been its re- 



suit in Judea, had it ever been established and perpetuated 

* Consult, for proof in detail, Smith's 
Roman and Grecian Antiquities, ed. 
Anthon ; Gibbon's Decline and Fall ; 
Becker, Roman Antiquities; Fuss, 
Roman Antiquities, Part I ; Edwards, 
Roman Slavery ; Eschenberg, Greek 
and Roman Antiquities ; Grote, His- 
tory of Greece; Archb. Potter, 
Arclueologia. When any master 
was murdered by a slave, it was a 
law in Rome that all the slaves who 
wore under the roof of the deceased 
at the time of the murder should be 
put to death, and all who had received 
their freedom. An instance of the 
execution of this decree to the letter 
occurred in the year 61, the very 
year, it is supposed, of Paul's arrival 
at Rome. The whole body of slaves 
belonging to Pedanius, amounting to 
at least four hundred, and including 
many women and children, were sac- 
rificed, though confessedly innocent ; 
a most frightful example of the atroc- 
ity of the laws which regulated the 
relations of slave to master, and, it 
may be added, of the wickedness and 
atrocity of the relation itself, of which 
all cruelties aad depravities of life 
and morals are but the natural result. 

The law under which they were put 
to death was passed by the Senate 
(see Tacitus, Ann. B., 13, 33) some 
three years previous. The populace 
opposed the execution, but the ma- 
jority of the Senate maintained it, and 
Nero lined the streets with troops to 
keep down the mob. Tacitus gives 
the speech of Caius Cassius, one of 
the senators, against repealing or sus- 
pending the decree, His arguments 
were worthy of the slave democracy 
of modern times. " At present," said 
he, " we have in our service whole 
nations of slaves ; the scum of man- 
kind, collected from all quarters of the 
globe. Who can hope to live in se- 
curity among his slaves, when so large 
a number as four hundred could not 
defend Pedanius Secundus ?" The 
argument was that the four hundred 
innocent should be put to death, to 
strike terror among the millions. Tac- 
itus, Annals, B., xiv., 42, 45. Com- 
pare Tholuck, Nature and Moral In- 
fluence of Heathenism ; Stroud's 
Slave Laws, ch. ii., Of the Incidents 
of Slavery; Becker, in Bib. Sacra, 
vol. 2 ; Kitto, Cyclop. Bib. Lit. Art. 
Slave. Neander, Ch. Hist., v. i. 


Examination of Greek Usage in the New Testament. — Terms of Service and 
Servants derived from the Hebrew, with the old free Hebrew Meaning, 
and not the meaning of slavery. — usage in the gospel of matthew. 

In the examination of passages in the New Testament 
bearing on this subject, especially those in which the Greek 
terms for servants, servitude, slaves or slavery occur, we have 
to bear in mind that, while the language of these terms was 
Greek, the signification was to a great degree Hebrew. The 
ideas for those terms, as they lay in the Hebrew mind, were 
different from the same in the Greek mind, so that the He- 
brew law and idea govern the Greek words, not the words 
the idea. It was an inevitable result of the discipline of the 
Mosaic laws, with the instructions of the Prophets, that the 
conceptions of the Jews, as to social life and liberty, were so 
far raised above those of the whole world beside, that neither 
the language of the Greeks nor of the Romans was adequate 
fully to convey them. Neither the Greek nor Roman term 
for wife could convey the sacredness of its meaning in God's 

The signification of such terms inevitably comes from the 
Hebrew through the Greek of the Septuagint translation, and 
is to be corrected by the Hebrew. " All the world," remarks 
Lightfoot, " that used the Old Testament at those times (unless 
it were such as had gained the Hebrew tongue by study) used 
it in the translation of the LXX., or the Greek — the quota- 
tions of the penmen of the New Testament out of the Old 
Testament might be examined by the Greek Bible."* The 

* Lightfoot, vol. xii., 587, vol, iii., 62, 310. Coxybeare and Howsox, L, 
pp. 11, 32, 43. Hug., Intr. N. Test. Alford, N. T. int. 


terras for servants, servitude, bondage, et cetera, were the old 
Hebrew terms, drawn through the medium of the Septuagint 
translation, and possessing the old Hebrew signification. The 
The Septuagint translators sometimes used SovXog for nsy, 
sometimes rrcug, sometimes olkbtt]c. But there was no Greek 
word for servant answering to the Hebrew "lay, free from the 
possible signification of bondage, in the way of chattelism, or 
human beings held as property. The Septuagint translators 
having applied dovXoc so freely as the rending of t^v, which is the 
word for a free Hebrew servnnt, dovXoe mnst have come to 
be as common a usage in Judea to signify free Hebrew ser- 
vants, as it was in classic Greek to signify slaves. The ordi- 
nary meaning of it, therefore, in the New Testament, is not a 
slave, but a laborer for wages on a voluntary agreement. The 
comparison of passages proves this. 

" Besides the writers of the New Testament," says Pro- 
fessor Planck, " the Alexandrian interpreters have also trans- 
ferred from the Hebrew usits loquendi new significations to 
many Greek words. The cause of this some have supposed 
(and not without a semblance of truth) to lie in the poverty 
of the Hebrew ; whence it has happened that since one word 
in that language often serves to express several ideas, the 
same variety of signification has been transferred to a Greek 
word, which perhaps properly corresponds to it only in one 
signification."* It is not so much a proof of poverty in the 
Hebrew tongue as of freedom and nobleness in the people, 
and righteousness in their laws, that the language had no 
word for slavery. The Greek word for slave and slavery, 
being used by the Septuagint interpreters to translate the 
Hebrew words for servant and service, received thenceforward 
from the Hebrew a meaning of freedom, which they did not 
bear in what is called classic Greek. Consequently, the same 
Greek words which, outside the New Testament, might mean 
slave and slavery, can not be proved to possess that meaning 

* Planck. Greek Style of the New Testament. Bib. Rep., vol. i, p. 686. 


in it, but are rather proved to possess the Hebrew idea, which 
they must have been used to convey. The general presump- 
tion in regard to the word dovXoq, in the New Testament, is 
that it means a free servant, such as the Jews were accus- 
tomed to, such only as the law of God permitted, suoh as was 
familiar in the social life and households of the country. For 
it is taken from the Hebrew vocabulary, with the Hebrew 
meaning, and the meaning of slavery can not be supposed or 
admitted, without positive proof in the context, or in the na- 
ture of the particular case. General instructions to servants, 
and to masters in regard to the treatment of servants, must 
inevitably mean such kind of servants as the law of God per- 
mitted, and not slaves, which the law of God forbade. It 
would be as absurd to suppose the Bible issuing instructions 
to slaveholders for the treatment of slaves, as if they could 
righteously hold slaves, as it would to suppose similar instruc- 
tions given to horse thieves for the treatment of their stolen 
property, or to fornicators for the treatment of their mis- 
tresses, as if fornication and horse-stealing were no crimes. 

That may be said in regard to the word dovXoq, and kindred 
terms in the New Testament, which has been beautifully and 
truly remarked by Professor Tholuck concerning some other 
phrases in Greek, used for religious ideas, that " in connection 
with the Christian dispensation they are all surrounded with 
new light, and advanced to a higher sense. The lexicographer 
of the New Testament has, therefore, first of all, to make the 
Old Testament idea the object of his research, and to express 
it exactly ; then, by a careful comparison of the parallel pas- 
sages, and from the consciousness of Christian feeling, to ob- 
tain a clear view of the Christian signification ; and finally to 
point out what is the point of connection between the idea of 
the New Testament and that of the Old."* 

* Tholuck on the Lexicography of volume of the Biblical Repository, 

the New Testament. The article pp. 552-568.— Also Dr. Robinson, 

translated from the Latin by Dr. Philology of the N. T. Bib. Rep., 

Robinson, is to be found in the first vol. 4. 




The first occurrence of the subject of service, in any form, 
is in Matthew viii. 5-13, the application of the centurion to 
Jesus for the healing of his servant. The word here used 
three times for the servant in question, is irate, answering to 
the Hebrew ">??, naar, boy, or youth. Bloomfield remarks on 
the passage, that rralg is often used, both in the classical and 

The reader may consult, also, on 
this subject, in the same volume, 
J. A. II. Tittman's admirable article 
on the grammatical accuracy of the 
writers of the New Testament. He 
here remarks on the importance of 
Ernesti's direction " to inquire re- 
specting words and phrases express- 
ing things about which the Greeks 
were accustomed to speak ; and first, 
■whether such single words are spoken 
in the same sense in which the 
Greeks used them." This article was 
published in the first volume of the 
Biblical Repository, in 1831. See 
also in the same volume the article of 
Haiin on Interpretation. 

Likewise, Prof. Turner's Lectures 
on the Claims of the Hebrew Lan- 
guage and Literature. He remarks 
that " the Greek of the New Testa- 
ment is Hebraistic." " If words oc- 
cur in the New Testament, the mean- 
ing of which is modified by that of 
analogous words in Hebrew, it be- 
comes necessary for every one who 
would thoroughly comprehend his 
Greek Testament to study his He- 
brew Bible." 

See also Hug on the Prevalence of 
the Greek Language in Palestine in 
the age of Christ and the Apostles 
Hug's Introduction to the New 
Testament. "In the holy city itself 
whole congregations of Jews who 
spoke Greek were established." Bib. 
Pep., vol. L, p. 530-552. 

Also J. A. H. Tittman. Causes of 
Forced Interpretations of the New 
Testament. See particularly the re- 
marks on the word <5u<aioc and its 
cognates. K The Alexandrine dialect 
was the language employed by the 
Greek interpreters of the Old Testa- 
ment." " The style of the New Tes- 
tament is mixed and made up of 
words and idioms borrowed from sev- 
eral languages, and particularly from 
the Hebrew." The importance of 
the true historical as well as the gram- 
matical interpretation is noted. Bib. 
Rep., vol. i., pp. 470-487. 

Pfanukuche. Aramean language 
in Palestine in the age of Christ and 
the Apostles. The writer notes "the 
unexampled firmness with which the 
Palestine Jews, after their return 
from the Babylonish exile, remained 
faithful to their ancient manners and 
customs." Also, under the dominion 
of the Romans in Palestine, " the en- 
tire internal administration of the gov- 
ernment, the courts of justice, etc., 
remained without any important 
change ; the nation were permitted 
to retain their code of laws, so insep- 
arable from their religions." Bib. Rep., 
vol. L, p. 33. 

Consult also Prof, Tholuck on tho 
Method of Theological Study and In- 
terpretation. Bibliotiieca Sacra, 
vol. i., pp. 200, 3-40. 

Also Prof. Stuart on the meaning 
of Krptoc. Bib. Rep., vol.L, p. 736 


Hellenistic Greek, for dovXog, servant, like pner in Latin. It 
is manifest that there is no indication of slavery here. 

In Matt. ix. 38, "The laborers are few ; pray that he would 
send forth laborers ;" the word used by our Lord is epydrai, 
answering to the Hebrew "i£s>, ovedh, a working man ; the 
Greek word here certainly meaning servants, hired laborers, 
but not slaves. 

Matt, x., 23, " The servant is not above his lord; enough 
for the servant that he be as his lord ;" dovXog is used in both 
cases ; no meaning of slavery attached to it, but signifying a 
free, voluntary service, the service of Christ. 

Matt.'xii., 18, "Behold my servant, whom I have chosen, 
my beloved," etc., o irate \iov ; in the Hebrew, "hs*, my ser- 

Matt, xiii., 27, 28 ; the parable of the householder sowing 
good seed. "The servants said unto him," dovkol, with no 
indication of any but free service. 

Matt, xviii., 23-35 ; the parable of the king and the wicked 
servant, who owed ten thousand talents. Here the words 
used are dovXog and ovvdovXog, employed nine times, but with 
no signification of slave or slavery, since it is the king who 
takes accounts of servants entrusted with the disbursement of 
vast sums of money, and who have fellow-servants owing them 
in like manner, in accounts of business. It is not a process 
of servitude, but of official business, or mercantile transac- 
tions, here brought to view, and of debts among freemen 
under responsibilities to the law. Bloomfield remarks on the 
word dovkwv, here used, that it does not mean slaves, but 
officers in the receipt or disbursement of money, of what sort 
it is not certain. 

Matt, xx., 1-16. — Here we have an important passage, the 
parable of the householder hiring his laborers for his vineyard. 
It is in the market place that he hires them, going forth, 
morning, noon and afternoon, for that purpose ; and the rep- 
resentation intimates that there were many standing idle, 


waiting to be hired, offering their services. There is no hint, 
no intimation of there being any such thing as slavery known, 
any such servants as slaves to bo bought and worked as prop- 
erty, without wages. There is no slave-market, and the ser- 
vants are hired from themselves, and neither bought nor hired 
from any third persons. There is no such possibility or cus- 
tom conceived of. These servants were freemen, who hired 
themselves out, and this, manifestly, was the prevailing, cus- 
tomary style of service, just as in England at this day, or in 
free New England, where no such thing as slavery is known. 

And the master of the vineyard agrees with the servants 
for so much by the day, and in the case of the latest hired, 
he promises to give to them whatever is just as their icages. 
He does not intimate that he will give them a peck of meal a 
week, and a fustian jacket and trowsers, and that the provis- 
ion of such food and clothing as he chooses for them will be 
wages sufficient for their work. Whatsoever is just, I will give 
you. Upon this very principle, and with a view to this very 
passage, the injunction was issued by the apostle, " Masters, 
give unto your servants that which is just and equal ;" such, 
wages as their labor demands, such as will be a just equiva- 
lent for thek work. 

The word used in this parable is epydrai, workmen, labor- 
ers, as in Matt, ix., 38. 

Matt, xx., 26 ; " "Whosoever will be great among you, let him 
be your minister," didaovoc, servant, "and he that will be first 
among you, let him be your servant," dovhog, servant of all 
work y not necessarily slave ; and tho exigency of the case 
forbids that our blessed Lord could have commanded any of 
his disciples to be as slaves one to another, as chattels, as each 
other's property. Call no man master in such a sense. It 
was not that kind of miserable, utter degradation, at the will 
of another, that was here enjoined, but humility, and the ser- 
vice of love, as in Galatians, Ye are called unto liberty by 
love, to serve one another, not to be one another's slaves. A 


free service is here enjoined, the service of freemen and not 
of slaves, the service of voluntary love, in lowliness of mind, 
each esteeming others better than themselves. 

Matt, xxi., 33-42 ; the parable of the householder planting 
a vineyard, and building a tower, and tetting it out to hus- 
bandmen, and then sending his servants to collect his rents ; 
Tovg dovXovg, the servants, used three times, verses 34, 35, 30. 
It certainly does not mean slaves, for the scene of the parable 
is in Judea, the vineyard is a Jewish vineyard, the servants 
are supposed to be Jews, and not enslaved heathens ; and the 
whole parable is as truly a representation of social life, in the 
relation between masters, or employers, and those employed 
by them, as the preceding parable of the householder going 
forth tx> hire workmen for his vineyard. There was not an 
individual who heard this discourse of -Christ who could have 
understood him to mean any other thau hired servants, ser- 
vants on wages, but not slaves. The householder sent these 
servants to the husbandmen, to receive of the fruit of the 
vineyard. They were entrusted with the collection of the 
rents in the productions of the land leased, or rented. 

The householder being a Jew, the demonstration is perfect, 
his servants being Jews, that they could not be slaves, and, 
therefore, the word SovXovg is demonstrated as possible to be 
applied, as beyond all question it was applied, to such servants 
as were free servants, and not slaves. The Jewish law forbade 
any Hebrew from being held as a slave, over and above the 
principles and statutes, that, likwise, strictly applied, would 
forbid holding any human being as a slave. 

Matt, xxii., 2-14. Here the parable is of the king who made 
a marriage supper for his son, and sent forth his servants to 
summon the invited guests to the wedding. The phrase used 
for servants is rovg dovXovg, and it is employed five times, in 
verses 3, 4, 6, 8, and 10. There is no reason to suppose that 
it means slaves ; and in the 13th verse the word employed ia 
dianovoic, attendants or servants, just as diaicovog and dovkog 



arc interchanged in the preceding case, Matt, xx., 26, " Then 
said the king to his servants. Bind them hand and foot," etc. 
These last would be more likely to be slaves than the first ; 
yet the word in the last case is didnovoc, and in the other 
dovXog. There is no proof whatever that slaves are here in- 
dicated ; but if they were, it is not a scene in Judea, but 
abroad, in the dominions of some oriental potentate. 

Matt, xxiii., 12. "But he that is greatest among you shall 
be your servant," 6idnovoq ; a repetition of the injunction of 
humility in Matt. 20 : 26, and the word employed signifying a 
free, voluntary laborer or attendant. 

Matt, xxiv., 45-51. "Who then is a faithful and wise ser- 
vant, whom his lord hnth made ruler over his household," etc. 
Here the words employed are dovhog and ovvdovXovg, ajid the 
word dovXog is employed four times, in verses 45, 46, 48 and 
50. There is no meaning of slave in it, for, again, it is sup- 
posed to be a scene of household life among the Jews, who 
kept no slaves, and at whose feasts and scenes of recreation 
and enjoyment the very relatives and members of the house- 
hold thought it no degradation to serve with the servants, if 
there were need of such service, as in the case recorded in 
John xii., 2, where " they made him a supper, and Martha 
served." The servants in this case are faithful and wise, types 
of the willing and faithful disciples and servants of the Lord, 
voluntary servants and not slaves. The good and the bad are 
contrasted, and their responsibility to their Lord is solemnly 
set forth. 

So in Luke xvii., T, where our Lord was speaking to the 
Jews, to his apostles, and generally to the disciples (it was in 
the neighborhood of Jerusalem), "Which of you having a 
servant ploughing, or feeding cattle," etc., dovXov and SovXol ; 
and the service is signified by the word dta/covei, not dovXevei. 
The agricultural lite and service of Judea, as in the days of 
Boaz, with the picture of his servants at their work, was a life 
of free service ; there were no slaves. There is no evidence 


of any change for the worse, in this respect, from the time of 
Boaz to the days of our Lord Jesus. 

Matt, xxv., 14-30. This is the parable of the man travel- 
ing into a far country, and calling his servants, and delivering 
to them his goods, his money, to trade with for him in his 
absence. The words here used are dovXog and Sov Aoi'c, em- 
ployed six times, in verses 14, 19, 21, 23, 26 and 30. It was 
not the employment of slaves to invest capital, and make 
money thereon, or to act as brokers, or exchangers, or com- 
mission merchants. There is no proof here that slaves were 
meant, or were in the minds either of the speaker or the 
hearers. On the contrary, as our blessed Lord was discours- 
ing of things familiar to his hearers, and which were well 
understood as illustrated by things familiar to their own ob- 
servation, the presumption is that neither he nor they referred 
to, nor would think of, any other kind of factors or servants 
in such commission business than voluntary, free servants, em- 
ployed for wages, on a compact of their own. 

Matt, xxvi., 51 ; "Struck a servant of the High Priest." 
Here the word used for servant is dovkov, certainly not a 
slave, for the Jewish priests kept no slaves ; the law did not 
permit it. This man was a Jew, and could not possibly have 
been a slave. ]STo Hebrew could be, or could be held, as a 
slave, and this man was certainly a free servant, follower, re- 
tainer, perhaps one of the vrr^perai, or officers of Judas' 
band. Yet he is called a dovXoq, and the case is proof abso- 
lute that the use of that word does not of itself prove the 
existence of slavery. 

Matt, xxvi., 58. Peter, in the high priest's palace, went 
in and sat with the servants, to see the end. Here the word 
used for servants is vrrrjperojv, used of the same class and con- 
dition as the word douAoc, in verse 51. It is said to mean 
here the ministers, attendants, or beadles of the Sanhedrim. 
But the Sanhedrim had no slaves. The servant of the high 
priest, whose ear Peter cut off, may have been one of these 


very officers, one of the vrrrjperaL There is no evidence to tho 

The fiovXot were a more generic class, the vmjpRrai, specific ; 
and in John xvii., 18, we have the two together. " And the 
servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals ; 
for it was cold ; and they warmed themselves ; and Peter 
stood with them, and wanned himself." But again, in verse 
26, the kinsman of Malchus, the servant of the high priest, 
whose ear Peter cut off, is called one of the servants of the 
high priest, elg tu>v dovXcov. And in the third verse Judas 
is said to have received a band and officers from the chief 
priests and Pharisees, comprising the whole rabble that rushed 
upon Jesus in the garden, and whom Peter encountered with 
his sword. The dov^og, whose ear he cut off, would appear to 
have been one of the virrjperai, but neither of these were 

Generally the attendants upon any work, the working 
agents, were called vrrnpirai,. John xviii., 30, our Lord says, 
"If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants 
fight" — i'-iiptrai. But our Lord's disciples and servants are 
called dlatiovot, dovXoi, or vm\pkrai, the words being inter- 
changeable, as for example, John xii., 26, ray servant, diaicovog ; 
John xiii., 16; Luke xvii., 10; John xiii., 16, and xv., 15 ; 
the servant not greater than his lord — not servants but friends 
< — we are unprofitable servants, dovXoi — and so in other places. 
Luke i., 2, ministers of the word, vm]pt:rai. In Liddell and 
Scott, vmjpt:T?ig is set down as a laborer, helper, assistant, ser- 
vant, underling, inferior officer. " In Xenophon, vmjpzraL 
were a number of men in immediate attendance on the gen- 
eral, as aides-de-camp or adjutants. Cyr. 2, 4, 4; 6, 2, 14, 
etc., etc." Compare Matt. xx. 26, page 360. 

Mutt, xxvi., 69. Peter sitting in the palace, a damsel, 
ncudioiin, comes to him. She is called, in Mark xiv., 66, one 
of the maids of the high priest, fiia tCjv rraidioictiv, and in 
Luke xxii., 56, a certain maid, ~aidionr}, and in John xviii., 


16, 17, her that kept the door, the damsel, -nai$ioKr\ r\ dvpwpog. 
" The word properly signifies a girl ; but, as in our own lan- 
guage, it is often, in later Greek, used to denote a maid ser- 
vant. The office of portei*, though among the Greeks and 
Romans it was confined to men, was among the Jews generally 
exercised by women." — Bloomfield in loc. 

See also Acts xii., 13, 14. There the doorkeeper, or the 
servant whose business it was to attend upon the door, was a 
Jewish damsel, iraiS'ioni], named Rhoda, herself one of the 
disciples, and on such terms of intimacy with the circle of 
brethren and sisters praying in the house, that she ran back 
instantly among them, and told them that Peter had come, 
and was at the gate, knocking ; so intimately acquainted with 
Peter that she knew him by his voice, as he stood outside the 
gate and demanded admittance, and so full of joy at his ar- 
rival that, actually forgetting to open the gate, she ran into 
the midst of the prayer-meeting with the news. Now these 
maids, or damsels, whether of the high priests, or of the dis- 
ciples, in their families, were not slaves, but answered to the 
condition of the free maid servants under the Mosaic laws in 
the Old Testament. 


Mark, i., 20. They left their father Zebedee in the ship 
with the hired servants, fuodurcdv. No slaves here ; yet ser- 
vile work to be done by servants for wages. The difference 
between jxtodojrog and dovXoq may have been the same as be- 
tween the Hebrew T | S'», hired servant, and the t35>, servant, 
neither being slaves, but free. 

Mark ix., 35. If any one will be first among you, he shall 
be last of all, and servant of all, didaovoc; ; in other places, as 
Matt, xx., 26, 6ovi,og. 

Mark x., 43. Whosoever will be great among you, shall be 
your minister, didaovog ; and whosoever will be the chiefest 
among you, let him be the servant of all. dovXog. 


Mark xii., 2, 4 ; the parable of the husbandman letting out 
the vineyard, and sending Lis servants to receive the fruits, 
as in Matt, xxi., 34. The word for servant is dovXov, certainly 
not a slave, the same being of a Jewish husbandman. 

Mark xiii., 34. The Son of man on a far journey, giving 
authority to his servants, and to every man his work ; dovXoig, 
not slaves in a Jewish household. 

Mark xiv., 54, 65. Peter sitting with the servants, and the 
servants smiting Jesus, virnptrai. 

We may note in this gospel, as in Matthew's, concerning 
the application of dovXog to denote the affectionate, voluntary 
servant in the household of faith, in the family of Jesus, that 
our blessed Lord never would have employed a word so base 
as that of slave to signify a relation so free, honorable, volun- 
tary and glorious as that of the Christian brother, the loving 
servant for Christ's sake, in Christ's love, the child of God, 
the happy, willing, loving servant of the Saviour. God is not 
a slaveholder, but a Father. Satan is the great slaveholder, 
but God rejects the service of a slave, and will have only the 
voluntary, loving service of a freeman. The Greek word 
dovXog, employed by the divine Spirit in the New Testament 
to signify a servant of God, and applied even to the divine 
Redeemer in his work of matchless, voluntary love, received 
its elevated meaning from the Hebrew -ray, and is no more to 
be debased w r ith the idea of slavery than the Hebrew law 
and language itself. The word dovXog is a Hebrew proselyte, 
and has been baptized, and thus only is admitted into the 
Christian family, its Pagan wickedness being washed away. 


Evidence from Luke. — Pictures op Free Jewish Households. — Pakarle of the 
Prodigal Son.— Nothing of Slavery to be Met with.— Only Free, Voluntary 
Service, as Under the Old Testament Laws. 

In the first chapter of Luke we find dovXr) used for maiden 
and handmaiden of the Lord, certainly not slave, (i. 38, 48.) 
And ~at.6ug, child (54), for his servant Israel, and the same 
(69) for his servant David. Ch. ii., 29. "Lord, now lettest 
thou thy servant depart," etc., dovXov oov, not thy slave. Luke 
vii. 2, 3, 7, 10, the centurion's servant who was sick. Here 
the word used in verses 2, 3, 8 and 10, is dovXog. But in verse 
7, the centurion himself speaks, and calls his servant rralg fiov. 
It has been contended that being a centurion he must have 
had slaves ; but even if he had, there is no proof of it, and no 
proof that this irate, was a slave, or that there was a single 
slave in his household. The word -rate is proof absolute that 
the word dovXog does not necessarily indicate a slave. We 
find -rralg and dovXog often used indifferently. In Matthew, 
viii., 5-13, in the same case, the centurion uses the word naig 
in verses 6, 9, and his servant is not called dovXog at all ; and 
the sacred historian uses the word naXg, not dovXog, in verse 
13, his servant {jraXg) was healed the same hour. 

Now the argument here is triumphant, so far as the proof that 
dovXog may be used as signifying the same with rralg, that is, 
may be used of a free servant, and does not necessarily imply 
a slave. There is no proof whatever that the servant of this 
centurion was a slave, but every indication to the contrary. 
Supposing this man a proselyte, then his household must have 
been ordered according to the Jewish law, according to God's 


covenant with Abraham. But his servant may have been a 
freeman, and freemen were still termed dovXog, so that this 
Greek word may mean a free person.* 

Luke x., 2, 1, laborers for the harvest ; and, " The laborer 
is worthy of his hire," epyardi, kpydrnc. The occurrence of 
this proverb intimates a state of society in which the working 
class are all hired laborers, workers for wages, servants, not 
slaves. It is a proverb that grows out of the custom of free 
and not slave labor ; but it comes directly from the word of 
God, and in connection with the Old Testament laws on this 
subject, it here proves that involuntary servitude, unpaid la- 
bor, the labor of slaves without hire, is wrong. It is a sin 
against God, the denunciation of which covers every case. 
" Wo to him that useth his neighbor's service without wages, 
and giveth him not for his work." If it was not permitted to 
take a man's service without wages, much more not to take 
himself as a chattel, a slave. If it was forbidden, in every 
case, so to oppress a man as to compel him to labor without 
hire, much more was it forbidden, much more was it criminal 
in the sight of God, and a much greater cruelty against man, 
to degrade the man himself to the condition of a horse, or an 
ox, compelling him to labor perpetually without wages, as a 

In other words, if to steal the man's wages was forbidden, 
how much more to steal the man himself. And especially 
when, as in the case of American slavery, the stealing of the 
man is followed by the stealing of his children, and his chil- 
dren's children, to all generations, as a legal consequence and 
necessity, the children of the stolen parents being affirmed to 
have been born in slavery, and therefore having no right to 
any other status, that statics itself being affirmed, even by di- 
vines, to be the holy providence of God, irreversible and right- 
eous ! "What exasperation and complication of iniquity ! 

* Eschenberg. Grecian Antiquities, § 99. Edwards. Slavery in An« 
cient Greece. Bib. Rep., voL 5. 


Luke xii. 37-47, the parable of the servants waiting for 
the Lord's return from the wedding. Blessed are those ser- 
vants, or dovXoi ; and the word servants is used six times in 
that form, dovXog. That it does not mean slaves is very clear 
from the 3 7th verse, where it is said that their Lord would gird 
himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and come forth 
and serve them. The ot\;ov6juoc in this parable, the faithful 
and wise steward, verse 42, is called, 43, 45, 40, SovXog, and 
his fellow servants are called, verse 45, naldag aai naidiotcag, 
and the household described being a Jewish family and house- 
hold, the words used mean just what the same words would 
mean in the Old Testament, a household of free servants, with 
the head servant, or steward, over the Avhole. Such an office, 
as far back as the days of Abraham, was that of the eldest ser- 
vant of his house, Eliezer of Damascus, Gen. xv. 2 and xxiv. 2. 
Always, in all Hebrew families, it was a free and honorable 
office and service, and the stewardship was over free ser- 
vants, according to the strictness of the Jewish law, and not 

Our Lord depicted, in this parable, a family under that law, 
and not a Greek or Roman family or household, not the do- 
mestic institutions of any heathen nation, but of the Jews ; and 
of the Jews as subject to the Mosaic laws, and maintaining 
them. The responsibility of the servants, and of the steward 
as a faithful and wise servant over the rest, was what Peter 
and the other disciples, who asked if the parable applied pai - - 
ticularly to them, could well understand, in the system of free, 
voluntary Hebrew service, but nowhere else ; and nowhere 
else could any original be found of the grateful, affectionate 
communion and relation of mutual confidence, labor and re- 
ward, between the master of the household and his servants. 
If the household service of the Hebrews had not been a free 
service, if their servants had not been voluntary servants for 
wages, those customs would have been totally unfit for an 
illustration of the service of the Saviour and of the household 


of faith. The service and responsibility of freemen, working 
for reward, and not of degraded chattels without wages, were 
as necessary for the ground-work of these beautiful parables 
as the system of Jewish sacrifices was essential for a prophetic 
illustration of the atonement by the Messiah. 

The same is true of the domestic pictures contained in the 
fourteenth chapter, which are all Jewish, founded on the very 
scenes beheld by the Saviour in the house of one of the chief 
Pharisees, with whom he was a visitor. The whole parable, 
verses 16-24, is of Jewish life. It is a Jew, like the Pharisee 
that had invited our Lord, Avho is supposed to have made a 
great supper, and bidden many ; and the servants whom he 
sends are Jewish servants, who could not possibly be slaves ; 
there could be no such thing as slavery in existence in a Jew- 
ish household, under the law of God. 

It is not a luxurious, proud Roman noble's household of 
chattel slavery and pomp that our blessed Lord is here de- 
scribing, but a household of which the very family in whose 
presence he was teaching, at whose board he was sitting, of 
whose hospitality he was partaking, formed the counterpart ; 
and he was appealing to their own well-known and familiar 
habits and usages. In this parable, as in the preceding, the 
word SovXog is the word employed for servant, as it is the 
Greek word commonly used in the Septuagint translation of 
the Old Testament, where the servants of the Hebrews are 
mentioned ; and it means the same kind of servant here that it 
does there, the free Hebrew servant, but not the slave. The 
word dovhog no more means slave in New Testament Greek 
than it meant slave in the Greek of the Septuagint, where it 
was employed to denote the voluntary, free, hired and paid 
servants in the families of the Hebrews. 

Luke xii. 36-47. " Blessed are those servants, dovXoi, 
whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching." The 
description is of free servants, not slaves, these latter not be- 
ing the subjects of reward for good behavior. It is a pic- 


tore of free Jewish service, and the word dovlog is used in 
verses 37, 38, 43, 45, 46, 47, six times. A peculiarity in this 
parable, or rather a peculiar proof of the freedom of all this 
service, is the fact that the word okovo/ioc, that faithful and 
wise steward, a freeman, unquestionably, is used as synony- 
mous with dovhog, and dovXog as a synonyme of okovo/ioc, af- 
fording another demonstration of dovAoc as not necessarily 
meaning a slave, but employed to designate a voluntary paid 

Luke 15: 11-32, the parable of the prodigal son. Three 
things of great importance are to be marked in this parable. 
First, the servants in this household are fuadioi, hired servants. 
They are all such ; there is no hint of any other ; for not only 
is it the exclamation of the prodigal, "How many hired ser- 
vants of my father have bread enough and to spare," but, 
when in the agony of self-abasement, he deems himself un- 
worthy of so much as the lowest place, and selects the most 
inferior station in his mind, as the only thing he could dare 
ask for, he says, " Make me as one of thy hired servants !" 

Second, these hired servants are called generically dovXoc ; 
a distinct proof, added to many others, demonstrating that 
dovXog does not necessarily mean slave, but may mean a free 
servant, and generally in the New Testament does mean such, 
being generally used for the servants among the Jews, who 
were all free. " But his father said to his servants,'''' dovXovg, 
verse 22. Again, in verse 26, the same dovloi, servants, are 
called TTcuduv, certainly not slaves ; the eldest son describes 
them as ncudow, servants. 

Third, the eldest son describes his own service of his father 
under the word 6ovXevo), which, had it been used respecting a 
servant, it would have been contended was a proof positive of 
the servant being a slave. But here the service of a free per- 
son, and not only a free person but a son, and not only so, but 
the eldest son and heir, is called dovXevetv ; showing that no 
argument can be instituted either from the use of this verb or 


from the corresponding noun, to prove that the service indi- 
cated is that of slavery. It may be that of persons perfectly 
free. The Septuagint uses the word dovXevoei in Ex. xxi., G, 
and elsewhere of the service of a Hebrew, voluntary and free. 

Fourth, to these considerations it may be added that when 
the prodigal son was reduced to misery in his wanderings 
into a far country, he went and joined himself (i:aoX/i>'j6)j), 
engaged himself, bound or apprenticed himself, to a citizen of 
that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. This 
was analogous to the case supposed in Lev. xxv., 47, of a He- 
brew falling poor, and selling himself to a heathen. If the 
transaction had been described in the customary language of 
the country of old, it would have been that his employer 
bought him, and that he sold himself. If that citizen had de- 
scribed the transaction, he would have said, " I have purchased 
me a new swine-herd to-day ; I met a wandering Jew, and 
bought him for so much money, and sent him at once to feed 
swine." Yet the purchase was a voluntary contract, as vol- 
untary on the part of the prodigal selling himself as on the 
part of the farmer hiring, or as the Hebrew phrase was, buy- 
ing him. The whole parable is a most striking picture of a 
state of society where freedom and not slavery prevailed. 
The /uoOioi, the hired servants, did not have to pay their own 
board out of their wages, nor was it considered that they had 
just and equal w 7 ages, because they had an allowance for their 
food, and sufficient sackcloth for their garments. They had 
food enough and to spare, besides their just and equal wages. 

The poor miserable prodigal, even after his engagement as 
a swine-herd, was still a free servant, on a voluntary engage- 
ment, although perhaps his master would have described him 
as being his money, and as having been bought by him. Yet 
he was at perfect liberty to leave his service, and return to 
his home if he chose, as the result proves. His master had 
no power or claim over him as property, and no hint is given 
of any imagination or purpose of sending a marshal or a blood- 


hound after him as a fugitive slave. lie takes his line of 
inarch direct for his father's house without so much as con- 
suiting with his master. 

Luke xvi., 1-13, the parable of the rich man who had a 
steward, the unjust steward. Compare the oltcovopog in this 
parable with that in chapter xii., 42, and it is found that the 
office is the same, and the servant holding it is beyond ques- 
tion a freeman, as among the Jews he never could be other- 
wise, for they received their customs neither from Greeks nor 
Romans, nor any other Pagans, but from Moses and from 

That the steward here was a perfectly free servant, is plain 
from his very trial and dismissal by his master, his employer, 
and his own complaint, that having had the stewardship taken 
away from him, he was no longer in his master's employment, 
no longer had any claim of salary for service, no longer, there- 
fore, any means of subsistence ; for he was not accustomed to 
labor, he was too proud to beg, and, being turned out of his 
stewardship for malversation of office, no other man would 
hire him. Now there is nothing described of this steward 
peculiar ; such as he was, except, it is to be hoped, his rascal- 
ity, such were all stewards, such they always had been, from 
the time of Abraham's Eliezer, who was no more a slave than 
this man in our Lord's parable was a slave. The office and 
the service were always those of freemen. Yet the service 
is referred to under the word dovheveiv, proving that that 
word in the New Testament means a free service, and not 
the service of a slave. 

This is strikingly confirmed by our Lord's own argument 
inverse 13, "No servant can serve two masters; for either 
he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to 
the one and despise the other. Ye can not serve God and 
Mammon." Ye can not 6ov Xeveiv God and Mammon. 

Here (verse 13) the word for servant is olictT?]^, and its appli- 
cation is generic, all sorts of servants ; yet in all cases it is sup- 


posed to be a free service, a service of voluntary choice and 
contract, for upon that point the pith and gist of the argument 
depend. The service supposed is not a compulsory one, about 
which the servant can have no will nor choice, nor about his 
master, or the choice of a master ; as it is well known no slave 
is ever consulted as to whether he will choose to serve his own 
master or prefers to run away, or enter into the employment 
of another. This attribute of choosing one's employer is the 
attribute of a freeman, not of a slave. And while the word 
used is olntrng, which here certainly means a free servant, and 
is taken generically for all servants, the word descriptive of 
the service is dovXeveiv, which, therefore, can not possibly here 
mean slave-service, or to serve as a slave. 

It is, therefore, proved that a man might be held dovXeveiv 
to perform the office of a dovkog, and yet be a free servant, 
free to choose his service and his employer, free to continue 
in his employer's service, or to quit it, and bind himself to 
another, or, in the language of the parable, hold to another, 
just as he pleased. Nothing can be more satisfactory than 
this demonstration ; the more so because it is generic, intended 
purposely to cover all cases, and the same word, used to sig- 
nify the service of man, is also used to signify the free volun- 
tary service of God, and that word is SovXeveiv. If the argu- 
ment had been concerning slavery or slaves, it would certainly 
have run in this style, namely, that no man can serve two mas- 
ters, for he is the property of one only, and has no will or 
choice of his own. 

The possibility of a question between the service of two 
masters, the possibility of hesitating or doubting, is founded 
on the fact of being able to choose, the fact of the service be- 
ing voluntary, and not compulsory, a compact with one of the 
two, which can not be made with both. Being made, the 
whole service of the man choosing that master belongs to him, 
and on the part of a faithful servant will be given to him, for 
it can not be given to two, and especially if the two are op- 


posed, the servant must inevitably be loyal to the one and 
opposed to the other. 

Luke xvii. 5-10. The apostles, in answer to their prayer, 
" Lord, increase our faith," are addressed by our Lord with 
the apothegm, or illustration of the way in which their faith is 
to be increased by working. " Which of you, having a ser- 
vant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him, when he 
has come from the field, go and sit down to meat ?" etc., etc. 
Here the word for servant is dovXog, and it is employed three 
times, in verses 7, 9, 10, and the word for service is not 
dovXeveiv, but diatcovei, verse 8. Several things of importance 
in the argument are gathered here. 

1. These dovXoi were of the same class with the oiKtrai 
mentioned in the preceding chapter as free servants. They 
were oherai, servants belonging to the house, and employed 
to wait upon table. But they were also dovXoi, employed as 
plowmen and herdsmen, laboring in the field and in the care 
of the flocks. They were \ucQioi, hired servants, although at 
the same time dovXoi, as in the parable of the prodigal son ; 
and they were olne-ai, house servants, at the same time, their 
service in the house being a diaitoviav, or ministry personal at 
the table of the master. 

2. These are supposed to be servants of the apostles; that 
is the very case put by our blessed Lord ; and, therefore, from 
the necessity of the case they could not be slaves, for no He- 
brew could either be a slave himself, or hold others as slaves, 
as property. This was forbidden in their law, and our Lord 
would no more have supposed the possibility of one of the 
apostles holding slaves than of his having a dozen wives. 

3. The apostles are called dovXoi., and are put upon the same 
level, as to our Lord, with the servants of their own house- 
holds, that is, persons engaged to a voluntary service, which 
they rightfully owe, not as being property or chattels, but as 
having chosen their own lord and master, on being chosen by 


him. The whole argument from this case is of extraordinary- 

Luke xviii. 22-29, and xix. 8, are passages presenting some 
interesting considerations bearing on our investigation. " Sell 
all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor," was our blessed 
Lord's command to the rich ruler. It is manifest that human 
beings could not have been included by our Lord in this 
man's property, by the sale of whom, and distribution of the 
profits, he was to have treasure in heaven. And so, when he 
said, " There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or 
brethren, or wife, or children for the kingdom of God's sake," 
there is no enumeration of slaves as any part of the man's 
possessions to be relinquished, as there must have been if they 
were the most valuable of his properties. And just so in the 
case of Zaccheus, " Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give 
to the poor ; and if I have taken away any thing from* any 
man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold," it is not to 
be supposed here that this converted man gives the half of his 
slaves, or the profits of their sale, to the poor, or that he has 
any slaves among his property. The incidental argument 
against the possibility of slavery is worth noting in these 
graphic pictui-es of society.* 

Luke xix. 13-22. In this passage we have the parable of a 
nobleman going into a far country, to receive a kingdom, and 
to return. And he calls his servants, dovXovg, or ten of his 
servants, and commands them to take charge of his business 
(occupy) till he returns. " The word [UpayfiaTEvaaaOE) sig- 
nifies literally and in the classical writers, to be engaged in 
business ; but here it is used as a deponent in the sense to do 
business with by investment in trade." The noun is used 
both in the classical writers and the Septuagint to denote a 

* The case may remind us of the holder, was accustomed to pray, 

anecdote concerning a slave owned " Lord, bless our slave Tom, espe- 

by two men, one of whom, being cially my half of himl" 
professedly a devout Christian slave- 

AovXog NOT A SLAVE. 377 

merchant. But the term in Matthew is epyafrodai. — Bloom- 
field, in loc. 

When lie returns, he reckons with his servants, these mer- 
chants in charge of his property, dovXovg, verse 15. Well 
done, good servant, dovXe, verse 17; and he gives him au- 
thority of over ten cities, and the next over five. Then in 
verse 22, Thou wicked servant, dovXe. 

It is to be remarked here, 1. It is a clear case of the word 
dovXog not meaning a slave. It is not to be pretended that 
these servants, dovXoi, were slaves. The business committed 
to them, the occupations in which they were engaged, and the 
governments with which they were intrusted, forbid any such 

2. The answer of the servant with the one talent would 
have been impossible to put into the mouth of a slave to his 
master. It is the answer of a man who conceives himself at 
liberty to refuse the service, if he pleases, and to give what 
reason he pleases. And accordingly the punishment here is 
merely the taking away of the commission and the property 
from him, and bestowing it upon another, while the unwilling 
servant is dismissed. He is not treated as a slave. 

Luke xx., 9-12. A certain man planted a vineyard, etc., the 
parable of the wicked husbandman. At the season he sent a 
servant, verse 10, dovXov, and verse 11, another servant, 
dovXov. Here the husbandman is a Hebrew, the scene being 
of Jewish life and occupation, and the servants such as the 
Jews were accustomed to employ, such, for example, as we 
find in the beautiful descriptions of rural life in the book of 
Ruth. There is no possibility of construing dovXov in this 
place as meaning slave. It has the same sense, borne by the 
same word, in the multitude of cases in the Septuagint, as in 
the New Testament, signifying a servant, but not a slave. 

Luke xxii., 2G, 27. " He that is chief as he that doth serve. 
Foi: whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that 
serveth ? But I am among you as he that serveth," dianov&v. 

378 AovAof; not a slave. 

Compare John xiii., 16. The servant is not above his master, 
dovXoc; being used the same as dtanovog, and in this case the 
signification of slave in either passage impossible. Compare, 
also, Phil, ii., 7. " Took upon him the form of a servant ," cer- 
tainly not of a slave, but a servant, who voluntarily endures 
" for the joy set before him." 

Luke xxii., 50. A servant of the high priest, dovXov. Com- 
pare Matt, xxvi., 51, and John xviii., 10. The servant in this 
case being a Jew, Malchus by name, we have another demon- 
stration of the employment of the Greek word SovXoq to sig- 
nify not a slave, but a free servant. For such Malchus cer- 
tainly was.* 

Luke xxii., 56, 57. "But a certain maid beheld him," 
(naidioKy). The word here employed is the same used in 
Luke xii., 45, the men servants and maidens, in John xviii., 
17, in Acts xii., 13, in Matt, xxvi., G9, in Mark xiv., 60, 69. 
That it here means a free servant, certainly not a slave, is ren- 
dered probable by the style of Peter's address : " Woman 
(yvvcu), I know him not." This was the manner in which our 
Lord addressed his own mother at the marriagef (John ii., 4), 
and on the cross (John xix., 26). It is not the mode of ad- 
dressing slaves, not the word that Peter would have used, 
had it been a slave he was answering.^ Compare the cases 
of its use in Matt. 15., 2S, Luke xiii., 12, John iv., 21 ; xix., 
26; xx., 13, and 1 Cor. vii., 16. The manner of address is 
that of courtesy, kindness, respect.§ 

HaididKi] is used so often, in the Septuagint, of free maid- 
ens (as in Ruth iv., 12, of the wife of Boaz), that its use in 
the New Testament (especially Gal. iv., 22-31) must be judged 
accordingly. Only in Acts xvi., 16, is there any application 
of it to a slave, the slave only of a heathen. 

* See Lightfoot on the passage, \ See yvvai, as used by TTerodotus, 

works, vol. xii. p. 39?. Thalia. 134. 

f Bloomfield, on John, N. T. § Alford, N. T. Note on John 

"A form of address used even to the i., 4. Also Eobixson, Lex., in verb., 

most dignified persons." yvvr/. 


Evidence from the Gospel of John and Acts of td:e Apostles. 

John ii., 5, 9. The marriage at Cana, and the servants. 
His mother saith unto the servants, Sia/covoic, verse 5. But 
the servanij§ knew, Stdnovoi, verse 9. Here, also, it is a Jew- 
ish household. There are no slaves in the family, but the 
usual retinue of servants on a bridal occasion. Had the word 
SovXol been used, the meaning would have been the same, not 
slaves, but the servants, hired as free servants, according to 
the Jewish law. 

John iv., 36. " And he that reapeth receiveth wages." The 
reapers were not a peculiarly privileged class of laborers or 
servants, but were on the same level with all other workmen. 
The receiving wages is named as a matter of course. The 
possibility is never even intimated of men being compelled to 
work without wages, and wages are the certain mark of free- 
dom and free labor. 

John iv., 40-51. The nobleman at Cana, whose son was sick 
at Capernaum. The term for nobleman is BaoiktKog, courtier, 
nobleman, according to Robinson and others, " but whether 
holding any office or not," says Bloomfield, " or whether a 
Jew or a foreigner, is uncertain." "The man seems to have 
been a Jew." — Alford, in loc. Capernaum was some twenty- 
five miles from Cana, and while he w r as returning home, the 
servants of his family met him, SovXot. In Cana the servants 
are called didtcovoi, in Capernaum, dovXoi. Being both Jew- 
ish families, the servants were doubtless free in the one case 
as in the other. There was a synagogue at Capernaum where 


our Lord publicly taught, and where this whole believing 
family may have heard him. 

John viii., 34, 35, 36. The servant of sin, SoiiXog. We were 
never in bondage to any one, said the Jews, but are the chil- 
dren of Abraham. How then sayest thou, Ye shall be made 
free ? So far as the state of slavery is here brought into view, 
it is with reprobation and horror of it, as a state to which no 
man could be justly assigned but for crime. Our Lord's ar- 
gument is, that freedom from earthly bondage is indeed a 
blessing, but that a man might be what is called a free man, 
and free born, as they claimed to be from Abraham, and yet 
the slave of sin and Satan. But there was another and a 
higher freedom, the spiritual, by the truth and the love of it, 
and obedience to righteousness ; and if the Son made them 
free, then they would be free indeed. 

John x., 12, 13. "The hireling fieeth because he is a hire- 
ling," ^uoOcorbg, a hired servant. Compare Luke x., 7, " the 
laborer is worthy of his hire." It is clear that those employed 
in the class of employments here designated were not slaves, 
but free hired servants. Compare Luke xvii., 1, " which of you, 
having a servant, dovXov, feeding cattle," etc., Troifiacvovra, 
feeding sheep, from which it appears that the servants 
and the field servants were of the same grade, and were hired 
servants, and not slaves. The argument is very forcible. 

John xii., 2. At Bethany, where they made for our Lord a 
feast, and Martha served, diquovei, did the work of an attend- 
ant, a servant. 

John xii., 20. " Where I am, there shall my servant be," 
dtanovog. The word is used to signify a free service, and not the 
service of a slave. But the word dovXog being employed in the 
same connection, for the same service, also means a free servant. 

John xiii., 10. The servant is not greater than his Lord. 
Here the word used is dovXog, and the service is the dianoviav, 
or ministry, the doer of which is called, in verse 20 of chapter 
xii., diaKovog, not a slave, but a free servant. Our blessed 


Lord himself performed the work of a servant in washing his 
disciples' feet. And on that occasion he said, I am among 
you as one that serveth, ScaKov&v. Luke xxii., 27. " And if 
I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought 
to wash one another's feet. For the servant, dovXog, is not 
greater than his master." Nothing can be clearer than that 
the word here does not mean a slave, but a free, voluntary 

John xv., 15, 20. " I call you no more servants, SovXovg, but 
friends. The servant, dovXoc, is not greater than his Lord." 
Compare John xii., 26, and Matthew x., 25. The comparison 
of passages proves incontrovertibly that it is a free, voluntary 
service, and that the word dovXog is used concerning such a 
servant, and not to signify a slave. 

John xviii., 10, 18, 26, 36. Peter struck a servant, dovXog, 
of the high priest. The servant's name was Malchus. In 
verse 26 one of the servants, dovXov, the kinsman of Malchus. 
In verse 18, the servants, SovXoi, and the officers, vmiptrai. 
In verse 3, a band and officers of the priests and Pharisees. 
Malchus was one of these, and is called dovXog. He could not 
have been a slave, and so here is another incontrovertible in- 
stance in which the word dovXog is applied to a person beyond 
controversy a free man. The name of the servant of the high 
priest is Jewish, as noted by Lightfoot, " Malchus, a name 
very much in use among the Jews, Neh. x., 4, 27."* Malchus 
and his kinsman being Jews, could not possibly have been 
slaves, but, though called SovXoc, were freo men in the condi- 
tion of servants.^ 

* Lightfoot, Hebrew and Talmud- ever, obtained the rights of citizens, 

ical exercitations on John. Works, The word, therefore, could not mean 

v., 12. slaves, exclusively. Esciiexberg, Gr. 

\ In confirmation of this and the Antiq., 99. 

preceding testimony as to usage, wo " Slaves," says Archb. Potter, " as 

have the knowledge that freedmen long as they were under the govern- 

themselves, among the Greeks, were ment of a master, were called oucerai, 

still termed ihv/.oi, and seldom, if but after their freedom was granted 



Acts ii., 44, 45. "They had all things common. — And they 
sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, 
as every man had need." There were thousands in this com- 
munity, and they were speedily increased by thousands more. 
If slavery had been an institution of God, slaves would inevi- 
tably have been among the most valuable of the possessions 
of these men. Did they sell their slaves, and put the money 
into their Christian treasury ? Did Barnabas do this ? It is 
well known that the early Christians applied their offerings 
sometimes to the purchase of their brethren out of heathen 
slavery. Did they regard them in the church as goods and 
chattels ?* The absurdity of the supposition is palpable. 

Acts ii., 18. And upon my servants and handmaidens will 
I pour out my Spirit, dovlovc and 6ovXae, certainly not slaves- 
Acts iv., 25, thy servant David, iraidoe. 
Acts iv., 29. Grant unto thy servants, SovXolc, not slaves, 
for they are the servants of the Most High. 

Acts x., 7. The case of Cornelius, the centurion in Cesarea : 
" Two of his household serva/its," oI.ketuv, by no means nec- 
essarily slaves/ and as to " those who waited on him? it is 
noted by Bloomfield that centurions were allowed to use some 
of their soldiers in the capacity of domestics. — BLOOMFiEivn, 
in loc. If this man were a Jewish proselyte his household were 
under the law of the Jewish Scriptures. Compare Luke xvi., 
13. This word oiKerrjq is employed in the Septuagint where 
slave could not be meant. Robinson gives as its just meaning 

them, they were dovloi, not being, among the Christians as the sale of a 

like the former, a part of the master's slave, hut that the masters set them 

estate, but only obliged to some small free. He enjoins the purchase and 

services. Potter, Antiq. of Greece, completion of their freedom, and giv- 

vol. ii., page 78. ing them trades, that they might sup- 

Xkaxder, Church ITist. Works of port themselves. Slavery, he says, 

Christian Piety, vol. iii., 35G. would cease if there were a true 

* Ciirysostom, cited in Neander, Christian feeling. Neander. Life 

affirms that there was no sucli thing of Chrysostom, 414. 


a house companion. Liddell and Scott, an inmate of one's 
house, with instances of its being used for the free women and 
children, and ojyposed to dovkoe. 

Acts xii., 13, 14. "And as Peter knocked at the door of the 
gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when 
she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, 
hut ran in and told how Peter stood before the gate." (See on 
31att. xxvi., 69, page 364.) This damsel, -xaidiotcr], was a ser- 
vant in a Jewish family, but not a slave. She was a Christian 
servant, and the familiarity and affectionate intimacy and 
equality of her intercourse in the household, with her joyful 
recognition of Peter by his voice, and her subsequent conduct, 
are characteristic of freedom, not slavery. 

Acts xvi., 16, IV. The damsel, TTaidlotcn, possessed with the 
spirit of divination, following Paul and Silas, and crying, 
These are the servants of the Most High God, dovkoi. It was 
a pagan, heathen city, where this transaction took place ; and 
this damsel is said to have brought much gain to her masters, 
who were ignorant idolaters, practicing both slavery and div- 
ination, as well as idolatry, for gain. She was doubtless a 
miserable slave, held in common by them, and exhibited for 
the gain of such a diabolical development. In exorcising her 
of the demoniac possession, Paul reduced her price, ^o that, 
comparatively, she was worth nothing to her masters, ;vho 
drew Paul and Silas unto the market place, with the accusa- 
tion of being troublers of the city. As in the uproar against 
Paul at Ephesus, the trade was troubled, and no crime could 
be greater than a reduction in the price of this stock, or the 
shaking of its permanence and security in the service of Satan. 
John Brown entering into the city could not have produced 
greater terror and wrath than Paul and Silas, delivering this 
poor slave from the thraldom of Satan, and restoring her to 
her senses. 


Evidence fiiom the Epistles to tiie Romans and Corinthians — Usage of words 
in these Epistles— Moral Argument from both. 

Romans i., 1. Paul, a servant of Christ, dovXog. Compare 
2 Cor. iv., 5 ; 1 Cor. vii., 22 ; Gal. i., 10 ; Phil, i., 1 ; Col. i., 7 ; iv., 
1 ; 1 Thess. iii., 2 ; 1 Tit. i., 1 ; Phil. i. ; James i., 1 ; 2 Peter i., 1 ; 
Jude i. ; Rev. i., 1. The Lord Jesus not being a slaveholder, and 
having declared the sense in which his apostles, ministers and 
disciples are his servants, that is, his freemen, serving him 
from the heart, choosing him, and cleaving to him, by divine 
grace, willingly, as their Lord and Master, the word SovXot 
applied to them, or dovXog to any one of them, can not prove 
that they were slaves, but proves only that this word was in- 
controvertibly in use to designate free persons, as, indeed, the 
instances of its usage abundantly demonstrate. God would 
never have chosen, to signify the exalted, holy, voluntary, 
loving service and adoration of a free heart toward the Sav- 
iour, a word that meant the chattelism of beasts, the compul- 
sory service of a slave. 

Rom. vi., 16-22. "To whom ye yield yourselves servants to 
obey, (SovXovg and dovXoi ecg v7raKo/)v,) his servants ye are, to 
whom ye obey, dovkoi, whether of sin unto death, or of obe- 
dience unto righteousness." This is an exceedingly important 
passage, even to the end. Several things are to be consid- 
ered : 1. The service to which this word dov/iog and the word 
vnaKoijv are applied, is voluntary, of free choice, whether the 
service is that of Satan or of God. Ye yield yourselves ser- 


2. There is the privilege with the ability of changing both 
the service and the master at pleasure, and entering into a 
new engagement, freely, voluntarily. 

3. When this change is made, it is called becoming the ser- 
vants of righteousness, or, as in verse 19, yielding your mem- 
bers as servants to righteousness, a voluntary act. 

4. The servants of sin are called free from righteousness, 
and the servants of God are called free from sin, showing the 
service, either side, a voluntary service. 

5. The word for obedience and service thus rendered is in 
verses 16 and 17 vnaKovo), and in verses 18 and 22 SovXevu. 
Here, then, is another case of the verb dovXevo) being applied 
to the service of a freeman, as well as the noun dovXog to the 
quality and state of a freeman. Compare Luke xv., 29, 
where the son says to his father, These many years do I serve 
thee, dovXevo), the service of a freeman ; and Luke xvi., 13 ; 
No servant can serve, SovXevetv, two masters ; ye can not 
serve, dovXeveiv, God and Mammon. Also note in this con- 
nection the fact of dovXot and \iioQtoi, being applied to the ser- 
vants of the same household, as equivalent terms. The proofs 
of this usage, as taken from the Septuagint, and intimating the 
same views in regard to slavery in the New Testament as in 
the Old, are multiplied. 

6. The wages, finally, are mentioned. The service is a ser- 
vice on wages, which is the service of a free, hired servant, 
and not a slave. The wages of sin is death ; the service vol- 
untary ; the wages earned and paid. AovXog, dovXevo, and 
dijjoivia (wages) are here applied to one and the same system 
of voluntary, paid labor. Compare 1 Cor. xix., 19, For 
though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself ser- 
vant unto all that I might gain the more ; edovXooa, made 
myself a servant, yet, at the same time, eXevdepog, a free 
man. Compare also Rom. vii., 6, we are set free from the 
law, that we should serve, (dovXeveiv,) in newness of spirit. 
There can be no question, therefore, that the words dovXog 



and dovXeveiv are both used of a free service, the voluntary 
service of a freeman. 

Rom. xiv., 14. "Who art tliou, that judgest another man's 
servant ? o'tKir-qv. To his own master he standeth or falleth. 
It is the servant of God that is here spoken of, and the ser- 
vice a free service. 

Rom. xvi., 1. Phebe, a servant of the church, didnovov* 


1 Cor. iv., 1,2; ministers of Christ and stewards, vTTTjperag 
and olKovdjxovg. It is required in stewards that a man be 
found faithful, olnovuixoi. Compare Luke xii., 42, 43, that 
faithful and vnse steward, ol/covo/wg. Blessed is that servant, 
dovXog, The argument here, from the use of the words, is 
plain and powerful. The steward was a freeman, not a slave 
(compare Luke xvi., 1), and the word dovXog is used as synony- 
mous with okovo/joc, of the same meaning, applied to the 

* Stuart on Rom. xii., 7, and xvi., vants {duabus ancillis, quce ministra 

1. On the general Greek usage in Ro- dicebantur, the two maid servants, who 

mans and the whole N. T. see Tholuck were called deaconesses), " I can not 

on this epistle, ch. i. vs. 1, 17 ; ch. ii. easily believe that deaconesses in 

V. 13; hi vs. 4, 19; vi. vs. 16-19. Christian churches were slaves. Nor 

" The pious Jews loved to use Bible do I think it very likely that they 

phrases in speaking of the things of should be domestic or hired servants, 

common life." " The Jews in gen- "We now all know what is meant by 

eral, and Paul among the rest, were a deaconess, in Christian writings. 

fond of Speaking in the language of But I suspect that Pliny was misled 

the Old Testament." Ch. ix. vs. 3, by the ambiguity of the Greek word 

24, etc; ch. xi. 12; ch. xii. 7. tiianovoc, which is sometimes used for 

See also Hug's Introd. to the New slaves, or such as performed the low- 
Testament, pp. 13, 15, 26, 339, 361, est services usually appropriated to 
541, etc., and Stuart's Notes, 675. slaves. I say I am apt to think that 

Also Dr. Robinson's admirable ar- Pliny was not sufficiently aware of 

tide on the Philology and Lexicog- the different meanings of the word 

raphy of the New Testament, Bib. dianovoc, deacon, in common use, and 

Rep., vol. iv., pp. 154-182. in the ecclesiastical sense. Phebe, 

Also, on SiaKovor, see Lardner, v. our sister, a servant of the church. 

1, p. 45. Lardner quotes the testi- It does not follow that she was either 
mony of Pliny, and remarks, concern- a slave or a hired servant to any one 

ing his torture of the two maid ser- member of it." Y. vii., pp. 45, 22. 


same free person. TTrrjptrai, oltcovofioi and SovXoi are applied 
indiscriminately to signify the servants of Christ, and diaaovog 
often in the same way. (See Robinson on the words.) 

Here it is proper to note the forced interpretation of bonds- 
men applied by some, as for example, Gonybeare and Hoicson, 
as the designation in English of the service, office and em- 
ployment of the apostles and preachers of the gospel. They 
have taken the bad and lowest signification of the terms, 
from Pagan usage, in regard to slaves, and applied that slav- 
ish signification, to the highest, freest, most honorable and 
voluntary commission and work of Christ's servants among 
mortals ! They have gone so far as to render 1 Cor. vii., 23, 
" Christ's slave, for he has paid a price for you all."* And 
they have translated Paul's injunction to use freedom, thus : 
" Nay, though thou have power to gain thy freedom, seek 
rather to remain content ;" at the same time acknowledging 
that " the Greek might be so rendered as to give directly op- 
posite precepts." Whence then this preference for slavery, 
and this dreadful attempt to foist it in, and fasten it upon, the 
blessed words and doctrine of divine inspiration ? 

1 Cor. vii., 21-23. "Art thou called being a servant? SovXoc. 
Care not for it ; but if thou mayest be made free, use it 
rather. For he that is called in the Lord being a servant, 
Sovloe, is the Lord's freeman ; likewise also, he that is called, 
beiifg free, is Christ's servant, dovXog. Ye are bought (re- 
deemed, jjyopdoOn-e,) with a price ; be not ye the ser- 
vants, SovXoi, of men ?" The argument here is the same as 
that in regard to a wife who is called, but is the wife of an 
unbelieving husband. If he be pleased to dwell with her, let 
her not leave him, for she may be the means of saving him. 
But if he depart, she is not under bondage, she is free from 
him, and from all obligation to him. So if a servant is called, 
being a servant, he is not to be troubled by that condition of 

* Conybeake and IIowson, Life and Epistles of Paul, vol. i., pp. 39, 159, 
436, etc. 


bondage, as if it were obligatory upon him, for if he may be 
made free, if lie can be made free, or become free (el ical 
dvvaaai tXevdepoc yeveodai), lie is at liberty to avail himself 
of that, he is commanded to become free, rather than remain 
a slave. Several things are to be considered. 

1. It is not merely a permission, but a command, Use it 

2. The reason, the ground, of this command is, that the 
slave, when converted, is the Lord's freeman ; but if he uses 
the privilege of his freedom from men, he is still Christ's ser- 

3. He is redeemed by Christ, and must not be the slave of 

4. If the state of freedom is his privilege and duty, then, 
on the other hand, it follows incontrovertibly that it is the 
duty of every master to yield to him that privilege, to let 
him go free. If, as a Christian, he is free, and is commanded 
to use his freedom rather than remain in bondage, then much 
more it is the duty of his master, as a Christian, not to re- 
strain him of that freedom, not to prevent him from that 
duty, not to deny him that privilege. If the state of freedom 
is so much better for the servant, or slave, that he is bound 
to use it, if he can become free, then by the same obligation 
his master is bound to give it to him, as justice and equality, 
as his due, bound to do to him as he would have him do to 
himself. This acknowledgement, or gift of freedom, is the 
first thing considered in the obligation of masters giving to 
their servants that which is just and equal. The first thing, 
and without which nothing can bo just and equal, is to treat 
them as free, to yield to them their freedom, and to deal with 
them as free. 

5. It is to be marked that while a general command is 
issued to converted persons to remain in the same calling in 
which they were found when called to the knowledge of 
Christ, one exception is made, and only one is mentioned, 


that of slavery. Out of that calling a man is to hasten as 
soon as possible, and as being the Lord's freeman ; and for 
plaiu reasons, not only of natural and Christian right, but 
because the state of slavery is so infinitely disastrous and 
degrading to the moral being, so unfavorable to piety, so in- 
evitably interfering with a man's duty to God. That a man 
may hope to keep his Saviour's commandments, and grow in 
grace, he must, as quick as possible, get out of the state of 
slavery. If thou canst be made free, use it rather. Deliver 
me from the oppression of man ; so will I keep thy precepts. 
Deliver me, that I may keep them.* 

1 Cor. xii., 13. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into 
one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free, 
elre dovXot dre eXevdepoi. And whether one member suffer, 
all the members suffer with it, verse 26. On this ground par- 
ticularly the injunction to remember them that are in bonds 
as bound with them, has its special sacredness of obligation, as 
a duty devolving on all Christians, and which, if it were to 
the letter fulfilled, would, without any other instrumentality, 
in the growth of the Christian church, do away with slavery 
from the whole world. But, alas! this power is destroyed 
by so large a portion of the so called Christian church taking 
the side of the oppressor, and instead of remembering them 
that are in bonds as bound with them, remembering them 

* See Olshausen, Comm. on 1 Cor., Whitby, 'in loc. ''That the charity 

ch. vii., vs. 20-24. Also Doddridge, of Christians was employed to buy 

Exp. on verso 23. Doddridge ex- their brethren out of slavery we learn 

pounds the verse, " Bo not become the from the apologies of Justin Martyr 

slaves of men, since so many evils and and Tertullian, who tell us that the 

dangers and snares are inseparable offerings at the sacrament were, 

from such a situation." Poole, An- amongst others, employed for that 

not. gives the same interpretation, use." See also Neander on the 

" Make use of thy liberty rather" See Church in Corinth. History of the 

also Lightfoot on verse 23. Lie- Planting of Christianity, 2G3, Bonn's 

brew and Talmudical Exercitations ed. Also Neander on Slavery. 

on Corinthians. Works, vol. xii. p. Church Hist vol. i., p. 372. Gro- 

498. See also Patrick, Lowtii and Tiers, Annot on 1 Cor. 



only to confirm their bonds and defend the system of iniquity 
as a righteous institution !* 

Compare 1 Peter ii., 16. As free, and not using your lib- 
erty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants, SovXoi, 
of God. Compare also Gal. v., 13, Ye have been called unto 
liberty ; only not for an occasion to the flesh, but by love 
serve one another. The expression, " whether bond or free," 
does not necessarily refer to slavery, but may mean merely 
the customary servitude of a free Jewish family, as well as 
the Pasran relations of servitude. 

* Bloomfield on Rom. vi., 18. 
" Obedience to God is properly not a 
slavery but a service." 

Olshausen on 1 Cor. vii., 20-24. 
" The relation of slavery is certainly 
opposed to the spirit of the gospel, 
which makes men free ; and Paul 
advises also the converted slaves to 
seek freedom if they can obtain it 
(of course in a lawful and proper 
manner), and the free men in no 
manner to trifle away their freedom. 
At the same time, if this is not pos- 
sible, he exhorts them not to vex 
themselves about it, since the freeman 
is also the servant of Christ. If thou 
canst also obtain bodily besides spirit- 
ual freedom, do it rather, for the slave 

called in the Lord is by the Lord 
made free from all outward power, 
therefore it is befitting also that he 
should be quite free." 

Whitby on 1 Cor. vii., 23. "Have 
ye been bought with a price ? Are 
ye bought out of servitude by the 
charity of Christians ? Return not 
again to the service of unbelievers." 

Calvin, Ad. Cor. 1, cap. vii. ; 
Adam Clarke, 1 Cor. vii. li Do not 
become slaves of men. I here reg- 
ister my testimony against the un- 
principled, inhuman, anti-Christian, 
and diabolical slave trade, with all its 
authors, promoters, abettors, and sac- 
rilegious gains, as well as against the 
great devil, the father of it and them." 


Evidence from the Epistle to tiie Galatians.— Powee of the Moral Argument. 

Gal. iii., 28. There is neither bond nor free ; all one in 
Christ Jesus ; dovAoc, eXevdepog, not meaning, necessarily, 
slave nor free, but if so, then an argument against slavery. 
These distinctions were to be done away in the church. Once 
obliterated and abolished there, their abolition would speedily 
follow in the world, and slavery would cease everywhere, 
would no longer be possible any where. 

Gal. iv., 7. Thou art no more a servant, dovAoc, but a son. 
In connection with this, take the first verse of the same chapter, 
" The heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a ser- 
vant, dovXog, though he be lord of all." It is evident that the 
apostle does not mean by SovXog a slave. He would not say 
that the heir differs nothing from a slave ; he would not say 
of Christ, the Lord of all, that he differs nothing from a slave. 
The meaning of SovXog here is of subjection to law, and to 
tutors and governors, till the time of assuming the heirship ; 
even as a Hebrew servant, or dwAoc, by the law, though not 
a slave, was under subjection to his master, till the appointed 
period of such service and subjection was fulfilled. Just so 
the Son of God was made under the law, to redeem them 
that were under the law, not under slavery, that we might 
receive the adoption of sons. 

The condition of slavery is not here referred to, neither in 
the whole argument that follows, but simply of bondage to 
the observances of the ceremonial law, and to the law as a 
condition of life contrary to the law of faith. " Tell me," 


says the apostle, "ye that desire to he under the law" (it 
was a voluntary thing), " do ye not hear the law ?" He then 
illustrates the allegory of Ahraham's two sons, the one hy a 
maid servant, iraidtOKn, improperly rendered bond-woman, 
since that is not the meaning of the Hebrew term, which is 
translated by the Septuagint, iraidioift], and by the English 
translators, in the first instance, simply maid (Ilagar, Sarah's 
maid), though afterwards they translated the very same word 
bond-woman, but without any ground in the original for 
such change. The mistress would be called eXevdepa, a free 
woman, in distinction from the maid servant, not because the 
maid servant was a slave, but, by the terms of Hebrew do- 
mestic service, "was under subjection to her mistress during 
the time of her contracted service. The mistress of a He- 
brew household would be called eXevdepa in distinction from 
all her Hebrew servants, who would each be called -naidtoKn, 
but not slave; and they also would be each eXevOepa, a free 
woman, according to the law, when the legal term of service 
had expired. Not one thing more than this distinction is here 
brought into view, as is manifest from the opening of the 
chapter, where the son and heir is represented under the ap- 
pointed condition of a servant, until the fullness of time for 
release from it. 

This is further illustrated and proved by the contrast, under 
the flesh, and under the promise. It will not be contended 
that Ishmael was a slave ; yet, if it is slavery and slave law 
that is here in view, he certainly was, if Hagar was a slave. 
But Ilagar was simply a maid-servant, and Ishmael, being her 
son, was not entitled to the promise, which belonged to Abra- 
ham's seed by Sarah, his wife. Paul compares the condition 
of Hagar and her seed with that of the children of the flesh, 
who are not the children of God, unless they become such by 
faith in the Lord Jesus, but are under subjection to the law, 
not as slaves, but by a just and righteous subjection. Mount 
Sinai, as a personification of the law, " gendereth to bondage," 


and Hagar answers to Jerusalem and the Jews, who are all in 
this bondage under the law, until by faith in Jesus they are 
redeemed from under the law, and receive the adoption of 
sons. " For it is written that Abraham had two sons, the one 
by a maid-servant, the other by a free woman. But he who 
was of the maid-servant was born after the flesh ; but he of 
the free woman Avas by promise. Which things are an alle- 
gory , — What saith the Scripture ? Cast out the maid-servant 
and her son ; for the son of the maid-servant shall not be heir 
with the son of the free woman. So then, brethren, we are 
not children of the maid-servant, but of the free. Stand fast, 
therefore, in the liberty wherewith Chrst hath made us free, 
and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Ye 
have been called into liberty ; only use not liberty for an oc- 
casion to the flesh, but by love serve one another, SovXevere. 
If ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law." Note 
here the word dovXevere employed to signify the free voluntary 
service of love, a service of freedom, not the service of slavery. 

Now the arbitrary manner in which the translators of the 
Old Testament have put a difference between Hagar in the 
16th and Hagar in the 21st chapters of Genesis, may be seen 
at a glance. No reason can be given for translating the He- 
brew words nr-2«; or n«N by the English word maid in one 
chapter and bond-icoman in another, especially considering that 
the Septuagint translation TraiSioitn is the same in both cases, 
and the Hebrew words are synonymous. (See 1 Sam. xxv., 
41.) In the 16th chapter (1-3) we read as follows : Sarai had 
an handmaid. Go into my maid (Sept. TraidiaKT]) ; and Sarai 
took Hagar, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abra- 
ham to be his wife. Verse 5, I have given my maid; verse 
6, Behold thy maid; verse 8, the angel says, Hagar, Sarai's 

In the 21st chapter the word rncN, maid, is rendered bond, 
woman (Sept. rraidioKi]) several times. No reason can be given 
for such a rendering in English. There is no justification for 


it, cither in the Old or New Testament. " So, then, breth- 
ren," concludes the apostle, we are not children of the bond- 
woman (rraidiOKi]) but of the free, eXevOepa." The contrast is 
not between slavery (which is the unrighteous bondage of 
chattelism) and freedom, but between the righteous obliga- 
tions of the law, impossible to be met by nature, and the free- 
dom of the gospel, the liberty in Christ by divine grace. 
Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath 
made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of 
bondage. Ye have been called unto liberty, the liberty of 

Now the whole moral argument here is overwhelming 
against slavery. " Christianity," remarks Neander,* " ef 
fected a change in the conditions of men, from which a disso- 
lution of this whole relation was sure eventually to take place. 
This effect Christianity produced, first of all by the facts to 
which it was a witness, and next by the ideas which by means 
of these facts it set in circulation. The original unity of the 
human race was restored in Christ. Servants and masters, if 
they had become believers, were brought together under the 
same bond of a heavenly union, destined for immortality. They 
became brethren in Christ, in whom there is neither bond nor 
free, members of one body, baptized into one Spirit, heirs of 
the same heavenly inheritance. Masters saw in their servants 
no longer their slaves, but their beloved brethren. Christi- 
anity could not fail to give birth to the wish that every man 
might be placed in such a situation as Avould least hinder the 
free and independent use of his intellect and moral powers, 
according to the will of God. Accordingly the apostle St. 
Paul, speaking to the servant, says (1 Cor. vii., 21), " If thou 
mayst be made free, use it rather." 

In the persecution under Diocletian, it appears that in some 
instances free-born Christians were made slaves, and put to 
the lowest and most degrading of servile employments. A 
* Neander's Church History, vol. i., p. 372, Bohn's Ed. 


part of the persecuting edict ran thus : " In judicial proceed- 
ings the torture may he used against Christians, whatsoever 
their rank may he ; those of the lower rank to be divested of 
their rights as citizens and freemen ; and slaves, so long as 
they shall remain Christians, are to be incapable of receiving 
their freedom."* This last item would intimate that Christians 
had been accustomed to give freedom to the enslaved. We 
here see a Pagan emperor divesting men of their rights as 
citizens and freemen because of their religion. In our own Chris- 
tian country we see the government and the Chief Justice of our 
national tribunal administering the same kind of treatment to 
Christian men because of their color. Under Diocletian the 
rescript of justice ran thus : Christians have no rights that the 
Romans are bound to respect. Under the government of the 
United States it runs thus : Black men have no rights that 
white men are bound to respect. Which is most infamous and 
wicked, the ignorant intolerance of the old Pagans or the en- 
lightened inhumanity and barbarism of the modern Chris- 
tians ? 

Some of the commentators seem so enamored of the lan- 
guage of slavery that they degrade the illustrations of the 
apostles by it. Conybeare and Howson translate ncudaywyoc, 
in Gal. iii., 24, as the slave who leads the child to the house of 
the schoolmaster^ and they suppose Paul to have been under 
such a slave. 

" His education was conducted at home rather than at 
school ; for, though Tarsus was celebrated for its learning, the 
Hebrew boy would not lightly be exposed to the influence of 
Gentile teaching, or, if he went to a school, it was not a Greek 
school, but rather to some room connected with the syna- 
gogue, where a noisy class of Jewish children received the 
rudiments of instruction, seated on the ground with their 
teacher, after the manner of Mohammedan children in the 
east, who may be seen or heard at their lessons near the 
* Neander, Church History, vol. L, p. 205. 


mosque. At such a school, it may be, he learned to read and to 
write, going and returning under the care of some attendant, 
according to that custom, which he afterward used as an illus- 
tration in the Epistle to the Galatians (and perhaps he remem- 
bered his own early days when he wrote the passage) when 
he spoke of the law as the slave who conducts us to the 
school of Christ."* 

There is no ground for such a translation. On the contrary, 
it violates both what we know of Hebrew domestic manners, 
there being no such thing in any Jewish family as such a slave, 
and is contrary to the laws of interpretation in regard to trop- 
ical language, such as confessedly that of the apostle here is. 
The pedagogue in this passage, and 1 Cor. iv., 15, is certainly 
(see Robinson and Bloomfield on the word) a tutor, or teacher, 
and tropically the law is so called. To translate the word as 
slave, and suppose that Paul's childhood was passed under the 
care of such a slave, to and fro from the synagogue, would be 
something like supposing from the mention of the lion of the 
tribe of Judah, that the families of that tribe kept such a lion, 
and were accustomed to regard it w T ith particular veneration, 
and thence applied the title to their expected Messiah. 

Speaking of the relation of Christianty to government, Ne- 
ander remarks that " Christianity (in the time of Paul) taught 
men to render an obedience that had its root in the love of 
God, and pointed ultimately to Him ; therefore a free obedi- 
ence, as far removed from a slavish fear of man on one hand, 
as from a lawless self-will on the other. The same spirit of 
Christianity which taught men to obey for God's sake, taught 
also that God should be obeyed rather than man, and that 
every consideration, even of property and life itself, should be 
disregarded in all cases where human power demanded an 
obedience contrary to the laws and ordinances of God. In 
such cases the Christians displayed that true spirit of freedom 
against which despotic power could avail nothing."} 

* Coxtbeare, Life and Epistles of Paul, vol. i., 54. 

•f Neander, General Hist, of the Christian Religion and Church, vol., i. p. 359. 


Conybeare and Howson have also rendered Gal. vi., 17, "I 
bear in my body the scars which mark my bondage to the 
Lord Jesus." And they attempt to justify this translation by 
saying that onyfiara signifies literally the scars of the wounds 
made upon the body of a slave by the branding-iron, by which 
he was marked as belonging to his master.* They think the 
scars of the wounds suffered for Christ's sake are to be ren- 
dered as such branding-marks of slavery. How strange that 
so forced and degrading an illustration should be chosen when 
another, so much more natural, and at the same time hon- 
orable, was near at hand. We are informed in Lucianf that 
the Thracians and others counted these orcyfiara as the badges 
of honor among freemen. Archbishop Potter quotes Theo- 
doret as of opinion that the Jews forbade the branding of 
themselves with stigmata, because the idolaters by that certi- 
fication used to consecrate themselves to their false deities. % 
The artyftaTa, referred to by the apostle, can not, therefore, 
be regarded as a proof of slavery, or its imitation, but of a 
voluntary and honorable religious consecration. Such marks 
Paul bore about with him, the marks of his consecration to 
the service of his Saviour, but not the marks of his having 
been branded as Christ's bond-slave. It is also important to 
be noted that the onyfiara were branded not upon slaves, as 
slaves, but as marks of punishment and disgrace upon thieves 
and fugitives.^ But Paul was never a fugitive from Christ's 

* Life and Epistles of Paul, vol. ii., % Potter, Grecian Antiquities, vol. 

p. 152. ii., 75, 76. 

f Luciajt, Syrian Goddess, Works, § See Blair's Inquiry, 48, 110 ; also 

vol. iv. Becker, Gallus, 231, Slave Family. 


Evidence from the Epistle to the Ei-iiesians. — Instructions to Husbands and 
Wives, Parents and Children. — Roman Laws in Regard to these Relations. 

Ephesians i\\, 28. "Let him that stole, steal no more; 
but rather lot him labor, working with his hands the thing 
that is good, that he may have to give to him that need- 
eth." It would be singular, if while such an injunction as this 
were supposed to apply to such a thing as a man's purse or 
pocket handkerchief, it should have no authority or obligation 
in regard to himself, or his own person ; that is, if for a man 
to take another's purse should be considered thieving, while 
to take the man himself and sell him, should be an honest 
transaction, nay, a fulfillment of the law of charity ! When 
the apostle says, " Let him that stole steal no more," raen- 
stealers as well as money-stealers would be included. And 
let men labor themselves rather than steal the labor of others. 

Ephesians v., 22. " Wives, submit yourselves unto your 
own husbands, as unto the Lord," etc. This passage, as 
applied to human society, makes slavery and Christianity in- 
compatible. The sacrament of marriage does not belong to 
slaves ; if servants can be slaves, they must cease to be hus- 
bands and wives ; they can possess none of the privileges, 
enjoy none of the blessedness, experience nothing of the in- 
violable love and sacredness of this celestial union, nor can 
they assume or be bound by its obligations. Human law for 
them abrogates or nullifies the divine law, and puts them out 
of its authority and protection. It is the judgment of slave 
law " that slaves have ?io marital rights? can not contract 
marriage, can not, therefore, be guilty of any violation of that 


ordinance by any promiscuousness of concubinage. The dia- 
bolical destruction of the institution of marriage by American 
slavery, the defiance and violation of God's law, the teaching 
and enforcement of concubinage, fornication, adultery, licen- 
tiousness, if there were not a single other feature to condemn 
it before God and man, would be enough, of itself, to brand 
it as sin, and only sin, continually ; demonstrating the system 
as nothing but a machinery for the permanent violation of the 
seventh commandment, as well as the eighth, and through 
them of every commandment of the decalogue. 

If the instructions of husbands and wives belong to servants, 
then servants must be free, and slavery is condemned by the 
Word of God, as not an ordinary crime, but a vast fountain of 
wickedness. If they do not so belong, then the obligations 
and privileges of the decalogue are not universal, and Chris- 
tianity is demonstrated not to be from God, but to be a sys- 
tem of gross and shameful respect to persons, making that to 
be sin in one class which is righteousness in another, and tak- 
ing away the dearest rights of one class to make them the 
property of another. A monopoly of the most sacred affec- 
tions, sentiments, and passions of life, taken away from the 
social existence of four millions, rendering them, by such 
fraud, inevitably vicious and miserable, making the state of 
social purity and happiness for them impossible, and that mo- 
nopoly given to three hundred thousand owners for their 
profit, would, of itself alone, if such an infinite monstrosity 
were attempted to be palmed off as a divine revelation, prove 
the volume containing it to be the product of sin, the work 
of the father of lies and murderer from the beginning. To 
think of that sacrament of wedded love, which the Lord Jesus 
has so infinitely exalted and magnified by comparing it with 
his own love for the church, being degraded into a stock- 
power, at the command of three hundred thousand merchants 
in human flesh, for the breeding of slaves as property ! 

Let the closing verse of this sacred passage be read and 


applied to such a system ! " Nevertheless, let every one of 
you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the 
wife see that she reverence her husband." The impossibility 
of such an obligation and such a blessedness for creatures in 
the condition of American slaves, under bondage to owners as 
their property for their sole benefit, is but one among the ter- 
rible consequences of the crime of slaveholding, but one in- 
stance or example of the havoc it makes with the holy precepts 
of the Word of God. Yet theologians at the North split hairs 
upon it on the question whether it be sinful in itself, malum in 
6-e, while theologians at the South accept and maintain it as 
the righteousness of God, and the most perfect state of human 
society, with the maxim partus sequitur ventrem as the Urim 
and Thummin of the system on the bosom of its ministering 

Ephesians vi., 1-4. " Children, obey your parents in the 
Lord, for this is right. Honor thy father and mother. And ye 
fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them 
up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." These sacred 
injunctions no more belong to slaves, as property, and are no 
more possible to be fulfilled by them than the former. In 
slavery children can owe no obedience to their parents, can 
not tell, indeed, in many cases, who their parents are, neither 
can parents possess any authority, or right of aifection, or of 
service, or of instruction, over their children, they being 
merely and solely the property of their owners, as mere mer- 
chandise, for their sole benefit and pleasure. The effect of 
this, in the destruction even of the parental instinct, is impress- 
ively demonstrated by Rev. Dr. Adams in his work on the 
South Side of Slavery ; as also to such an extreme in the de- 
struction of the filial sentiment from the child to the father, 
making it absolutely unintelligible, demonstrating the impos- 
sibility even of the relation of father being understood by 
slave-children, that he could not undertake to speak to a class 
of such children in reference to the words, Our Father who 


art in heaven, with any hope of making them comprehend the 
the blessed meaning of those words ! It would scarcely be 
possible to conceive a more overwhelming demonstration of 
the dreadful nature of slavery in itself, but especially as 
wrought, concentrated, and established in a system by law 
and religion in our own country, vaunted as the most perfect 
form of Christian socialism, and the most effective missionary 
institute of heaven ! 

It is not possible that Christianity could ever tolerate such 
a system. If we admitted that Christianity tolerated slavery 
in order to subvert it, as some have argued, then on the same 
grounds we must admit that Christianity tolerated conjugal 
slavery, and filial slavery, as well as servile slavery, for under 
the Roman law, which prevailed in those lands wherein Chris- 
tianity was first taught to the Gentiles, slavery inhered in the 
relations of wife and son, as well as in that of servant. But if 
the precepts of Christ could not be interpreted into consist- 
ency with a Christian's treating his wife as a slave, or treating 
his son as a slave, neither can they be interpreted into consist- 
ency with a man's treating his Christian brother as a slave.* 

Under the Roman laws, " in his father's house the son was 
a mere thing, confounded by the laws with the moveables, the 
cattle, and the slaves, whom the capricious master might 
alienate or destroy, without being responsible to any earthly 
tribunal. At the call of indigence or avarice, the master of a 
family could dispose of his children of his slaves." But the 
condition of the slave was far more advantageous in this re- 
spect, Gibbon adds, because the slave was free on being the 
first time manumitted ; but the son might be sold by his fa- 
ther a second and a third time into slavery. He had the 
power of life and death over him ; " examples of such bloody 
executions were sometimes praised, and never punished."f 

* Dr. Hague, Christianity and Statesmanship. 
\ Gibbon, Decline and Fall, chap. xliv. 


Under the same laws the wife was equally the slave of the 
husband, " who was invested with the plenitude of paternal 
power, so that by. his judgment or caprice her behavior was 
approved, or censured, or chastised; he exercised the jurisdic- 
tion of life and death ; and it was allowed that in cases of 
adultery or drunkenness the sentence might be properly in- 
flicted." " So clearly was woman defined not as aperso?i, but 
as a thing, that if the original title was deficient she might be 
claimed, like other moveables, by the use and possession of 
an entire year."* 

Now if the relation of slavery is sanctioned, as some have 
argued, by the instructions in the gospel to masters and ser- 
vants, under the Roman law, so is the power and right of the 
father and the husband over the life and liberty of the son and 
the wife, as part and jDarcel of the filial and marital relation, 
sanctioned by the instruction to fathers and husbands. There 
is no condemnation of the Roman law in either case ; no in- 
junction forbidding husbands to kill or sell their wives or their 
children. Does the fact of the relation of father and son, hus- 
band and wife, being recognized in the Xew Testament sanc- 
tion or sanctify those enormities, or make the son and the 
wife slaves ? No more does the relation of master and ser- 
vant being recognized in the Xew Testament make the ser- 
vant a slave, or sanction or permit the claim of the master 
over him as a chattel, as his property. The same argument of 
human law that makes the servant a slaAe makes the sou and 
the wife a slave. 

" Be ye not the servants of men," says the apostle Paul. 
" It is far from his intention," says Lightfoot on the passage, 
; ' to take away the relation that is between masters and ser- 
vants."! But the injunctions upon masters do absolutely 
abolish the relation that is between masters and slaves, 

* Gibbon, cli. 44. Blair, Inquiry mans. Fuss, Rom. Ant., §§ 83, 84, 8G. 
into the State of Slavery among the Ro- f Lightfoot, vol. xii, p. 498. 


making it impossible for a Christian to hold a slave, or 
to treat a human being as property. The true primitive 
Christians, acting upon Christ's precepts, must have carried 
them into a complete abolition of slavery in their households, 
and this example at length produced its effect among all the 
races under the Roman empire. Paul's Epistle to Philemon, 
as we shall see, was just a development and application of 
these principles. 

In later times we have some striking testimonies of the 
same principles. Neander quotes the Abbot Isidore of Pelu- 
sium writing in behalf of a fugitive, and addressing the mas- 
ter thus : " I did not suppose that a man who loves Christ, 
who knows the grace which has made all men free, could 
still hold a slave !" He quotes also from " the venerable 
Monk Nilus," citing the example of Job's benevolent and right- 
eons conduct to his servants, and demanding compassion for 
the race of slaves, " whom the mastership of violence, destroy- 
ing the fellowship of nature, had converted into tools." The 
essence of slavery is here brought to view, the conversion of 
an immortal being into a chattel ; a mastership of violence^ 
inconsistent with the professions of Christianity.* 

Augustine also protested against treating slaves as things. 

" The Christian," said he, " dare not regard a slave as his 
property, like a horse, or silver, although it may happen that a 
horse fetches a higher price than a slave, and still more an ar- 
ticle of furniture made out of gold or silver." It is related ot 
Eligius, Bishop of Noyon, that " when he heard that vessels 
were arrived full of slaves for sale, captives of Roman, Gallic, 
British, and Moorish descent, but particularly Saxons, who 
were driven like so many cattle, he hastened to the spot, and 
sometimes ransomed a hundred."f 

At the same time it is scarcely to be doubted that such in- 

* jSTeastder, General History of the f Neander's Memorials of Christian 
Church, vol. iii., p. 356. Life, pp. 30G, 377. 


stances wei*e rare, and indicate the highest Christian con- 
sciousness above the corruption of the age. They are as 
light-houses upon rocks amidst the sea, and they shine amidst 
many abominations. It could not be expected that, while the 
corruptions of Christianity were deepening, this great virtue 
of the rebuke, resistance and excommunication of slavery 
would be maintained, according to the spirit of the gospel. 
There came to be, in various parts of the Roman empire and 
among its fragments, a race of serfs, adscripti glebce, in France, 
England and other nations, treated in almost every respect 
like the slaves of ancient Rome. The records of successive 
councils of the Christian church, as traced by Guizot (espe- 
cially in French history) and by others, show the long contin- 
uance of this iniquity in a most oppressive form.* Of the 
Roman emperors, Hadrian and Antoninus Pius were the first 
who endeavored to abolish the power of life and death held 
by masters over their slaves.f This power, even with the 
father over his children, was held until the time of Constan- 
tine ; and even this emperor allowed parents who were very 
poor to sell their infants instantly on their birth.J Meantime 
human beings were constantly reduced to slavery by wars, 
and the cases of their redemption or deliverance, through the 
interference of the church, stand recorded as remarkable ex- 
amples. The monastic institutions and spirit were opposed to 
slavery, even while in the church it was tolerated. The ordi- 
nance of Louis le Hutin, in France (anuo 1315), for the en- 
franchisement of the serfs, cited by Michelet and Guizot,§ while 

* Guizot, History of Civilization, made in the image of our Lord ought 

vol. 2. — Compare Muratori, cited in to be free by natural right, and that 

Blair, 238. in no country this natural liberty or 

+ Fuss, Ant. Eom., ch. 1, § 54. — freedom should be so effaced or ob- 

Blair, Inquiry, 85. scored by the hateful yoke of servi- 

t Fuss, ch. i., § 86. tude," etc. (Vol. i., page 398.) " A 

g .Michelet, History of France, vol. grand spectacle," exclaims the histo- 

L The ordinance of Phillipele Bel, in rian, "to see proclamations made 

1311, is still more remarkable. "See- from the throne itself of the impre- 

ing that every human creature who is scriptible right of every man to lib- 


it followed the spirit of Christianity, ran before the practice 
of Christians. This ordinance begins like our Declaration of 
Independence. "Since, according to the right of nature, 
every one should be born free, and that by certain usages and 
customs, which have been introduced and kept from great an- 
tiquity in our kingdom, and by adventure, many of our com- 
mon people are fallen into conditions of servitude which 
greatly displeases us ; Ave, considering that our kingdom is 
called the kingdom of the Francs, and wishing that the 
thing in truth should agree with the name, by deliberation of 
our great council have ordained, and do ordain, that generally 
throughout our kingdom, as far as in us lies, and in our suc- 
cessors, such servitudes should be abolished, and that freedom 
should be given to all those who are fallen into servitude, 
either by origin, or by marriage, or by residence." Centuries 
before this, Hilary of Poictiers had said to the emperor, in an 
epistle, " The whole labor of your sovereignty should have 
for its object to secure for all over whom it extends the 
sweetest of all treasures, liberty. There is no mode of ap- 
peasing troubles until every one be emancipated from all the 
fetters of servitude.'' , * 

Alichelet refers to the passage of slavery (the canker and 
destruction of the Roman empire) into serfdom, or the growth 
of serfdom out of slavery, rooting the laborer to the soil. He 
cites the Justinian code. "The tenant follows the law of his 

erty." The asylum of the churches, In 550, " As we have discovered that 

and the freedom bestowed by them, several people reduce again to servi- 

were respected long before. Never- tudo those who, according to the cus- 

theless, it is proved that serfs were torn of the country have been set at 

held as ecclesiastical property, and liberty in the churches, we order that 

Christians, who would not suffer Jews everyone shall keep possession of tho 

to hold slaves, held them themselves, liberty ho has received, and if this 

Yet in a council at Lyons, in the year liberty is attacked, justice must be 

567, it is decreed that those wlioneg- defended by the church." Guizot, 

lect to restore to liberty those that Civiliz.. vol. ii. 

have been made captives by violence * Ages of Faith, vol. i., 232. Gib- 

and treason shall be excommunicated, box, ch. 36. 



birth ; although in point of condition apparently free-born, he 
is the slavo.of the soil on which he is born." " A tenant se- 
creting himself, or seeking to desert from his patron's estate, 
is to be held in the light of a fugitive slave."* Such is the 
serfdom, or slavery, traced by Guizot in the councils of the 
church in France through nearly six centuries, from the fourth 
to the tenth. f At the same time the example of personal in- 
dustry by the monks commences an innovation of free and 
voluntary labor, which is to be the basis of a free modern ex- 
istence. " The rule of St. Benedict sets the first example to 
the ancient world, of labor by the hands of freemen."J 

Ephesians vi., 5-9. " Servants (dovXoi) be obedient to 
them that are your masters (itvpioig)^ according to the flesh, 
with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto 
Christ ; not with eye-service, as men-j)leasers, but as the ser- 
vants [dovkoi) of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 
with good will doing service (Sov/Levovreg) to the Lord, and 

* Michelet, History of France, 
vol. i., 56. 

f Guizot, Modern Civilization, vol. 
ii., 458-511. 

% Michelet, i., 62. "Charlemagne 
gratifies his teacher, Alcuin, with a 
farm of twenty thousand slaves." 
The Crusades began a revolution of 
liberty in central France. " The serfs 
had their own page of history." 

§ Contbeare and IIowson (Life 
and Epistles of Paul, vol. iL, p. 422) 
assert that " the word nvpioq, Lord, 
always implies the idea of servants." 
A strange assertion, as see, Rouixsux, 
Lex. on the word, No. 3. See also, 
in this connection, Prof. Stu.vrt on 
the meaning of icvpioc, Bib. Rep., vol. 
i., pp. 133-776. Comparison of icvpiog 
and <5ec--o7//f, p. 736. 

Conybeare and IIowson also trans- 
late the word Sov'aoi, here and in 1 
Tim. vi., 1, also Colossians and else- 

where, as bondsmen, and they have 
put in the margin, " duties to slaves." 
Thus, in fact, they would take from the 
Scriptures what was meant to be the 
guidanco of God for servants in all 
ages and places, to all time, and re- 
strict these precious passages to per- 
sons under a temporary and wicked 
bondage, forbidden in the word of 
God, and destined to be utterly abol- 
ished 1 If these passages apply to 
slaves, to those who are the property 
of their owners, then they have no 
application whatever to servants in 
England, in Switzerland, in Germany 
in Italy, in France, in Sweden, in free 
New England ; any where and every- 
where in the world, where there are 
no slaves, there these instructive pre- 
cepts are in effect blotted from the 
Bible as superfluous, or indicating 
only a wickedness that has passed 


not to men, knowing that whatsoever good thing any man 
doeth the same shall he receive from the Lord, whether bond 
or free (sire dovXog elre eXevOepog). And ye masters, do the 
same tlnngs unto them, forbearing threatening, knowing that 
your master also is in heaven ; neither is there respect of per- 
sons with him." Compare Col iv., 1, "Masters give unto 
your servants (dovXoig) that which is just and equal, kuowing 
that ye also have a master in heaven." 

There is no intimation of slavery here, but on the contrary, 
the rule laid upon masters forbids the supposition of slavery, 
muking it impossible to consider servants as slaves, or to treat 
them as such, as property ; the masters being commanded to 
regard and treat their servants just as the servants are com- 
manded to regard and treat their masters, according to the 
will of Christ, with a single and supremo regard to his pleas- 
ure. They could neither be claimed nor treated as property 
without the most direct violation of the law of God, and dis- 
regard of the will of Christ. They could not be claimed as 
property without assuming a mastership and command over 
them -which Christ alone possessed. The word dovXoq con- 
trasted with iXevOeoog by no means proves the significance of 
slave, since that was the very mode of comparison and con- 
trast become the ordinary Jewish servant, who could not pos- 
sibly be a slave, and the freeman. The servant hired for six 
years would be called dovkog, in contrast with his master as 
EAEvQepog, or with any person not in domestic or household 
service. The contrast, bond and free, was a customary eon- 
trast between simple service and the state of freedom from 
such service, and inasmuch as the word here translated bond 
is 6ov?.og, in every other instance in the passage translated 
servant, there is no reason for changing this translation. If 
it read in English, " ichether servant or free," the whole sense 
of the passage would be perfectly conveyed. There is no in- 
timation or proof whatever of slavery in the language, while, 



on the other hand, there is an absolute interdiction of slavery 
by the precept, by the whole tenor and meaning. 

Adam Clarke's energetic testimony against slavery, under 
this passage, is here to be noted. "Though dovXog frequently 
signifies a slave or bondman, yet it often implies a servant in 
general, or any one bound to another, either for a limited 
time or for life.* In heathen countries slavery was in some sort 
excusable ; amongst Christians it is an enormity and a crime, 
for which perdition has scarcely an adecpiate state of punish- 
ment." — Comm. on Eph. vi., 5. 

* Thirlwall (History of Greece) 
affirms that Aristotle sometimes em- 
ployed the "word dovXoi to signify the 
whole mass of the people who were 
not citizens. 

The lato Dr. Thomson, of Edin- 
burgh, maintained, with great power of 
eloquence, the righteous love of liberty 
inspired by the gospel, and tho inhe- 
rent iniquity of tho relations of slav- 
ery. " I appeal," said he, " to the in- 
herent and efficacious power of Chris- 
tianity, as determining all in whom it 
really dwells to aspire after liberty as 
the object of their keen ambition, to 
cleave to it as the object of their fond 
and decided attachment. If you in- 
troduce the principles and sentiments 
of Christianity into the heart of any 
individual, you introduce into his 
heart the very elements of freedom ; 
you infuse that which he feels to be at 
eternal variance with every species of 
bondage ; you prepare him for throw- 

ing off the yoke, with an energy 
which may be calm and secret, but 
which is also potent and irresistible in 
its operations. Let his faith be strong 
in the truths of revelation, and let 
him experience their practical influ- 
ence, and the consequence is, that 
without waiting to compare what he 
is with what he ought to be, or calcu- 
lating on the advantages of exchang- 
ing the one situation for the other, he 
is constrained, as it were, by instinct 
to aim at the transition, and to seek 
for disenthralment from the tyranny 
that presses him to the earth. There 
is something within him which is ab- 
horrent of whatsoever goes to consti- 
tute him a slave. His soul has ac- 
quired an elasticity that bids him rise 
with tho silent and resistless force of 
nature to that place in the creation of 
God in which alone, as his congenial 
clime, he can breathe, live, and be 


Epistles to tiie PniLippiANS and Colossians. — That -vrnicn is Just and Equal. — 
Nature of the Eule, and its Conclusions, — It Abolishes Slavekt. — Epistle to 
the tuessalonians. 

Piiilippiaxs i., 1. " Paul and Timotlieus, the servants 
(dovXot) of Jesus Christ." (See on Rom., p. 383, and 1 Cor., 
p. 386). 

Phil, ii., V, spoken of Christ, who " took upon him the form 
of a servant (do-DAov)." Here is an incontrovertible instance in 
which (JoC'Aoc can neither mean slave, nor be translated by the 
word slave. It would be false to the reality, and a violence 
against the meaning*of the passage, to say that our blessed Lord 
took upon him the form of a slave. He is said to have been 
formed in fashion as a max, not as a slave, and to have humbled 
himself as a man, not as a slave. He could not be said, in any 
sense, to have taken upon him the form of a slave, unless he 
had been born a slave, of a slave mother, according to the in- 
famous slave law, '•'•partus sequitur ventrem y" unless he had 
been born the property of a slave-owner, the chattel of a mas- 
ter, who would have the right by law to have sold him and 
his mother together, or him as a child, without respect to his 
mother. This, therefore, is a case in which dovXoq does cer- 
tainly mean merely and only a person in the condition of a 
servant, not a slave. In taking the form of a man, he took 
the form of a servant of God, a servant under subjection to 
the law of God, but not the form of a chattel of man, a slave 


owned as property by his roaster. Such a sense of the word 
is to be rejected with abhorrence.* 


Colossians i., 7. " Epaphras, our clear fellow-servant (ovv~ 
dovXov)." Compare iv., 12. "Epaphras, a servant (SovXog), 
of Christ," and iv., 7, " Tychicus, a faithful minister and fellow- 
servant in the Lord, diditovog teat cvvdovXoc;." 

CoL iii., 11. "Neither Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor 
free," dovXog, £Xev6epog. The same remarks apply here as on 
Eph. vi., 8. There is no intimation of slavery or its sanction 
in the Church, but an exclusion and condemnation of it.f 

Col. iii., 1S-24. The same body of instructions as in Eph. 
v., to husbands, wives, parents, children, and servants. " Wives, 
submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the 
Lord." Impossible in the state of slavery. " Children, obey 
your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing unto the 
Lord." Impossible in the state of slavery. " Servants (dov- 
Acu), obey in all things your masters, according to the flesh ; 
not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of 
heart, fearing God." " For ye serve the Lord Christ (6ov- 
Aeuere)." This does not mean ye are enslaved to the Lord 
Christ, but ye serve him, as his freemen, from the heart. Com- 

* Campbell on the Gospels, Pre- he formed man, made him not bond, 

limary Discourses. Dis. iv., vol. i. but free. Behold, slavery came of 

Also vol. ii., ch. xx. "It is solely sin. Slavery is the punishmeet of 

from the scope and connections that sin, and arose from disobedience. But 

•we must judge when it should be ren- when Christ appeared, he removed 

dered in the one way, and when in this cause, for in Christ Jesus there is 

the other." See also Poole, Aunot. neither bond nor free." Chrysostom 

on PhO. Compare Howe on the elsewhere intimates that if a pure 

Faithful Servant, works, 965. Christian feeling were prevalent, slav- 

\ See Chrtsostom's Homilies, ci- ery would cease. Compare Neander's 

ted by Neander, in his Life of Chrys- Church History, vol. iii., p. 356. Also 

ostom, pp. 413-416. " There was no Memorials of Christian Life, page 

slave in the old times ; for God, when 196. 


pare the whole with Eph. vi. 5-9, and the remarks on the 
meaning of the word dovloq in the same connection there. 

Col. iv\, 1. "Masters, give unto your servants (dovXoig) 
that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a 
Master in heaven." This commandment would abolish slavery 
throughout the world. It is impossible to give to a servant 
that which is just and equal, and yet treat him as a slave. In 
making him a slave, all justice and equality is denied him. 
In claiming him as a slave, and treating him as property, 
which is the essence of slavery, nothing is given him but 
cruelty ; every right of a human being is withheld frcm him ; 
nothing but injustice and inequality are forced upon him. 

There is no law of justice or equality in behalf of the slave ; 
no obligation on the part of his owner toward him is ever pre- 
tended, but for his (the owner's) sole benefit. It is even de- 
clared that slaves have no marital rights, much less any right 
to wages, or any of the privileges or natural possessions of a 
freeman. The slave has no right even to his peck of meal a 
week, if his owner chooses to withhold it. The plea of justice 
and equality toward American slaves is just merely the fanati- 
cism of Abolitionism. True; and this is the fanaticism of the 
New Testament ; and this one injunction of Paul to masters, 
as to the treatment of servants, would break up and abolish the 
system of American slavery forever, and prevent the possi- 
bility of the crime of slaveholding wherever the law of God is 
regarded and obeyed. 

For, 1. The very first article of justice and equality toward 
a servant requires that he be treated as a human being, and 
not as a brute, or chattel, but as a human being having a right 
inalienable to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ; a 
right to dispose of his own services, and a right to a just rec- 
ompense therefor. 

2. The rule of justice and equality in regard to servants, as 
to all classes of men, was to be found in the Word of God, and 
not in men's own perverted ideas of self-interest, or the right 


of conquest or of power ; not in any Roman, Greek, or Pa- 
gan code of laws, but in the Divine law. This, and this alone, 
was the acknowledged guide of the conscience of the Chris- 
tian. To this, therefore, he must refer to learn what, in God's 
sight, was the treatment of servants pronounced just and 
equal, and required of all. 

3. The treatment of men as merchandise was forbidden in 
that law. To make any man a slave, or to hold him as such, 
or to sell him, was forbidden on pain of death. Therefore to 
treat a servant as a slave was to be guilty of a crime against 
him punishable with death. That which is just and equal 
could not be given to him in any way while he was treated as 
a slave ; for his very manhood and all its rights were taken 
from him. 

4. The law of God required that, without respect to per- 
sons, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; and what- 
soever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so 
to them." If men would not themselves be made slaves, or 
suffer their own children to be made slaves, then they ought 
not to make slaves of others. 

The consequence is plain, that both by natural right and by 
the law of God, to which the apostle always refers as the ac- 
knowledged supreme rule of duty, this precept must have 
rendered slavery impossible. Had there been not another 
word in the New Testament on the subject of slavery, this 
one precept would abolish it, would brand it as a crime, would 
forbid it as a cruelty and injustice incompatible with Christi- 
anity, and which, if any professed Christian were guilty of it, 
must exclude him from the Christian church as an extortioner 
and a man-stealer.* 

* Compare, on page 350, the notice from bondage, " The noble disposi- 

of Isidore and Augustine's abhor- tion (a man of noble disposition) frees 

rence of slavery, and declarations of those whom violence has made 

its incompatibility with Christianity, slaves." Neander, Church History ( 

Among the works of Christian piety, vol. iii. Chrysostom, rebuking the 

Isidore names the redeeming of slaves rich and the nobles, who pretended 

epistle to thessalonians. 413 

Give unto your servants that which is just and equal, 
■was a fit inscription over the gate of the New Testament in 
this branch of morals and of domestic economy ; as over the 
gate of the Old Testament, the inscription, He that steal- 


hands, shall surely be put to death. Between these two 
slavery is abolished for ever. 

2 Thes. iii., 10-12. "For even when we were with you, 
this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither 
should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk 
among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busy bodies. 
Now them that are such we command and exhort by our 
Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat 
their own bread." These precepts show that a state of society 
was founded and formed by the gospel, in which manual labor 
for the earning of one's bread was so far from being incon- 
sistent with the dignity and freedom of manhood, that if any 
one refused it, and would five without labor, the law of Chris- 
tianity itself would leave him to starve in his chosen gentility 
and indolence. The publication of this rule may have been 
found especially necessary to correct the supposition, that be- 
cause masters were forbidden from making slaves of their 

to permit a crowd of slaves to follow Horn, in Acts Apost., xi., cited by 

them, out of philanthropy, said, " If Neaxder in Life of Chrysostom. 

ye cared for these men ye would buy " If any one ask," said Chrysostom, 

them, let them leara trades, that they " whence came slavery into the world 

might support themselves, and then (for I have known many who desired 

give them freedom." The Christian to learn this), I will tell him. Insa- 

spirit of Chrysostom revolted against tiable avarice and envy are the pa- 

the traffic in human flesh, as well as rents of slavery ; for Noah. Abel, 

against slavery. Keferring to the Seth, and their descendants, had not 

communion of possessions at Jerusa- slaves. Sin hath begotten slavery ; 

lem, the Christians selling their goods, then, wars and battles, in which men 

and supposing the possibility of their were made captives." There were 

example being followed, he cautions those in Chrysostom's time, as in ours, 

the people against imagining any "sale who appealed to father Abraham. 

of slaves, for that did not exist in those " But ye say that Abram had slaves. 

times, but equitably they were per- Aye, but he treated them not as 

mitted to be freo." — Chrtsostom, such." 


servants, therefore the servants were released from the neces- 
sity of working, or the duty of obeying their lawful masters. 
The privileges of the gospel freedom were guarded on all 
sides from licentiousness. It was as much the duty of the 
servant to work, and to do his work faithfully, as it was of 
the master to pay his wages, giving to his servants that which 
is just and equal. 

The law of love was to bind each class to the other, in mu- 
tual dependence and obligation, and all together to Christ. 
The socialism of the gospel expels slavery on the one side 
and pride on the other ; servility on the one side and arro- 
gance on the other ; and the true freedom of the gospel 
transfigures society with the happiness and content of heaven. 
With what heaven-instructed impartiality does the apostle 
apply the principles of justice and of love at one and the same 
time to the highest and the lowest. After enjoining a be- 
havior from servants towards their masters inspired with good 
will, and fraught with deferential observance of duty in sin- 
gleness of heart as unto Christ, doing service as to the Lord 
and not to men, he adds, And ye masters do the same things 
unto them. Where on earth was the character of the servant 
and the quality of service ever so exalted, so combined and 
dignified, with the highest independence ? It is a picture of 
social equality, with the preservation of just distinctions, in 
harmony and love, to which there has never been an approach 
outside of divine revelation. And, indeed, the wondrous 
treatment of the subject, at the same time that slavery is 
branded as a crime worthy of death, is in itself a proof of 
divine inspiration. 


Evidence from tiie Epistles to Timothy and Titus.— The Gospel against Men- 
stealees.— Its Comprehensiveness and Meaning.— Servants Under the Yoke.— 
Believing Masters.— The Law of God in Eegard to them. — Slavery Forbidden 
in the Churches. 

1 Timothy i., 9, 10, 11. "Knowing this, that the law is 
not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and diso- 
bedient, for the ungodly and profane, for the murderers of 
fathers and murderers of mothers, for man-slayers, for whore- 
mongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for 
men-stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be 
any other thing that is contrary to souud doctrine, according 
to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was com- 
mitted to my trust." 

Paul is here instructing Timothy how to preach the gospel, 
and he informs him that he must do it by the faithful applica- 
tion of the law to all the sins forbidden by the law, some of 
the worst of which sins he enumerates, and among them the 
sin of max-stealixg, referring unquestionably to Ex. xxi. 1(3, 
" He that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found 
in his hand, he shall surely be put to death." That the refer- 
ence is explicitly to this law there can be no manner of doubt, 
since the context of crimes, murderers of fathers, murderers 
of mothers, man-slayers, etc., is the very catalogue in the 
chapter of the law in Exodus, in which the crime of man- 
stealino; is defined and forbidden. 

The apostle declares that it is as much the duty of the 
preacher of the gospel to preach against that crime, with and 
under the gospel, as it is to preach against murder, adultery, 
lying, profaneness, and all other sins. It is the legitimate 


office of the gospel to proclaim the law against man-stealing, 
and certainly to apply it in all its meaning, against every form 
of the crime, against holding a man as a slave, and against 
making merchandise of him, as well as against the original 
stealing of him. The forcible continuance of a man in the 
condition of a slave, a stolen man, would be just a repetition 
and continuance of the original man-stealing, and, therefore, 
the application of this law, under and by the authority of the 
gospel, and for the purpose of the gospel, to bring men away 
from such sins, and to save them in Christ, must be made to 
the slaveholder ; and it would inevitably forbid, break up, 
and destroy the crime of slaveholding, as a crime inconsistent 
with Christianity, forbidden of God, and set down by him in 
the same catalogue with that of the murder of fathers and 

In this view, a more tremendous passage against slavery 
does not exist than this. It binds the preachers of Christ and 
him crucified to make the application of the law of God against 
this crime a part of their gospel preaching. They can not be 
faithful preachers of the gospel without preaching, in the name 
and by the authority of Christ and his cross, against this sin 
of making merchandise of men, of holding or selling human 
beings as property, as slaves. Let the gospel be preached ac- 
cording to Paul's instructions, and let the churches apply the 
discipline of Christ accordingly to the sinners under this cate- 
gory, and slavery would be abolished from our land. 

The Greek word for men-stealers is avSparrodcaralg. Lid- 
dell and Scott define the word thus : a slave-dealer / also 
one who kidnaps freemen or slaves, to sell them again. The 
Greek verb, di'dpaTrodi^co, signifies to reduce to slavery, to en- 
slave ; in the passive, to be sold into slavery. Dr. Robinson de- 
fines the word as follows : a slave-dealer, man-stcaler, 1 Tim. 
i., 10; comparo Ex. xxi., 16; Dcut. xxiv., V. — Pol. 12, 9. 2; 
Xen. Mem. 1, 2, 6. 

The authorities show that the word means a slave-dealer, 


and also a man-stealer ; and the apostle, by using this word as 
a synonyme of that crime which in Ex. xxi., 16 is forbidden 
on pain of death, shows that any man making merchandise of 
men is guilty of that crime ; the slave-dealer, the slave-trader, 
the slave-buyer, the slave-seller is the man-stealer. 

The man who sanctions and employs the slave-dealer, re- 
ceiving from him a man as merchandise, or putting into his 
hands a man to be sold as merchandise, is himself the guilty 
party, the man-stealer. Any man who has any thing to do with 
the crime, either as go-between, or buyer, or seller of a man, 
or holding him as property, is implicated in the guilt of man- 
stealing. They who pass laws sanctifying this iniquity only 
increase the guilt ; they who practice it under the laws that 
sustain it can not extricate themselves in that way from the 
crime, but are guilty of it before God. The nation that de- 
fends and practices it by law is a nation of mex- stealers'. 

The attempt to evade the terrible power of this passage, 
by directing it against slave-stealers, as if the stealing of a 
slave was what God has forbidden, w-hile the stealing of a man 
is not forbidden at all, is futile, because the reference of the 
apostle is to the Hebrew law against man-stealing,* and not 
to any law against slave stealing, there being no such law. 
It was enough to forbid the stealing of a man ; for that pre- 
vented the possibility of there being such a thing as a slave 
to steal. If there had been such a thing, then the stealing of 
a slave would have been a crime simply because it was the 
stealing of a man, and not because it was the stealing of a 
slave ; the stealing of a man from himself, and not the steal- 
ing of a slave from his master. There is no law in the Old 
Testament or the New against slave stealing ; there is against 
man-stealers. There are no such criminals recognized as 

* Grotius, Opera, Comm., in loc. mum est furti genus liominem liberum 

Grotins refers to both forms of the law furari. The imagination of slave 

in Ex. xxi., 16, and Deut. xxiv., 7. stealing being here referred to did not 

He adds that the stealing of a freeman enter into his mind. 
is the highest kind of theft. Maxi- 


slave-stealers ; but there are as men-stealers, and it is men- 
stealers, and men-merchants, men buyers and sellers that are 
condemned to death. And Paul commands that the law of 
God and the gospel of Christ be preached against this crime. 
It is an argument of wonderful power against slavery. 

Adam Clarke's note on this passage is comprehensive. 
" AvbpaTTodioTaic;, slave-dealers ; whether those who carry on 
the traffic in human flesh and blood ; or those who steal a per- 
son in order to sell him into bondage ; or those who buy such 
stolen men and women, no matter of what color or what coun- 
try ; or those who sow dissensions among barbarous tribes, in 
order that they who are taken in war may be sold into slav 
ery ; or the nations who legalize or connive at such traffic- 
all these are man-stealers, and God classes them with the 
most flagitious of mortals."* 

Conybeare and Howson (vol. 2, p. 464) translate the word 
as Clarke does, slave-dealers. They add, this is the literal 
translation of the word. If, then, the gospel of God is to be 
preached against slave-dealers, it is because the traffic in hu- 
man beings, as property, is condemned of God in his law as a 
crime. Any man is a slave-dealer who buys or sells, or buys 

* See also Lucian's Dialogues, sold, but thinks himself nevertheless 

The Sale of Philosophers. Jasper free." 

Mayne's translation, 1G38. Oxford, See also Fuss, Roman Antiquities, 

fol., p. 382. "Mercury. You, felloe, ch. i., 53. Also Blair's Inquiry on 

with the scrip over your shoulder, the State of Slavey, pp. 32, 52, 45. 

stand forth, and walk round the as- The traffic in slaves was carried to a 

sembly. yes 1 I sell a stout, vir- greater height in Rome during its 

tuous, well-bred, free mortal ! Who days of prosperity and luxury than 

buys him ? any where else ; the market being 

" Merchant. Do you sell a freeman, furnished from all parts of the world, 

Crier ? but chiefly from Greece and Asia, and 

" Mercury. Yes ! men free by birth being kidnapped 

"Merchant. Are you not afraid he everywhere to supply it. — Potter, 

should accuse you of man-stealth, Antiq. Greece, vol. ii., 81, by whom 

and summon you before the Areopa- Aristophanes is cited, using the word 

gus ? avdpanodioruv for the traffic. 

" Mercury. He cares not for being 


and holds a man as a slave ; so that inevitably the slaveholder 
comes under this condemnation. And this is Grotius' inter- 
pretation of the law. 

It would be impossible to set the gospel against slave-dealers 
if it were not contrary to the gospel to hold men as slaves, to 
make merchandise of men. The only reason for the infamy 
attaching to the profession and character of a slave-dealer, is 
because slavery itself is criminal and infamous, just as a pimp is 
an infamous character, because adultery is infamous. If the hold- 
ing of slaves were righteous, the dealing in them would be right- 
eous also ; if the slaveholder can be received into good soci- 
ety, the slave-dealer is equally worthy of it ; if the slaveholder 
can be admitted into the Christian church, the slave-dealer 
can also. On the other hand, if slave-dealing is criminal, it is 
because slaveholding is a crime, and if the slave-dealer is infa- 
mous, the slaveholder is likewise. The apostle, therefore, in 
setting up the slave-dealer as a personification of crime and 
infamy, along with the murderer, for the condemnation of the 
law and the gospel, and thus excluding him from the Christian 
church, does the same with the slaveholder, for what belongs 
to the one belongs of necessity to the other. If the church 
excludes the one, it must the other. 

The practice by nations of a crime denounced by the Lord 
God as worthy of death in individuals, the sanctioning and 
pursuing by law of what God has forbidden under any and all 
circumstances, has never on earth been so terribly illustrated 
as in the nineteenth century of the Christian era, in the United 
States of America. At this day the crime of kidnapping, the 
crime of stealing men and convertingthem into property for gain, 
is being committed openly by professedly Christian States, with- 
out scruple, without compunction, without shame, in unparal- 
leled defiance both of God and man. Christian States are by law 
doing precisely what the United States laws denounce and pun- 
ish as piracy ; seizing free citizens, and selling them as slaves. 

The example of a pagan nation before the coming of Christ 


is here followed under the light of Christianity. In pagan 
Greece Pericles is said to have proposed a law that only those 
who were born of parents that were Athenians on both sides 
should be reputed free citizens of Athens. Having prevailed 
upon the people to give their consent, little less than five thou- 
sand free citizens were at once deprived of their freedom and 
sold as slaves.* Our State piety has improved on the obedi- 
ence of paganism, and our rulers, under the teachings of the 
gospel according to slavery, do not have to ask the people for 
leave to sacrifice their liberties, but tirst pass the law, and then 
compel the people to obey it. 

1 Tim. vi., 2. " Let as many servants (dovXoi) as are under 
the yoke (vnb %vybv) count their own masters (deoTrorac) wor- 
thy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not 
blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them 
not despise them, because they are brethren, but rather do 
them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers 
of the benefit. These things teach and exhort." This passage 
is a proof of the completeness of divine inspiration in guarding 
against the abuse of doctrines that might have been perverted 
to evil, though perfect in good. After the injunctions against 
slavery, the reference to the Hebrew law branding it as a 
crime worthy of death, and the precept, " If thou mayst be 
made free, use it rather," a stampede of slaves from their 
heathen masters might have been apprehended, which could 
have been attended (before the diffusion and knowledge of 
the truth and will of God in Christ concerning it) with nothing 
but disaster. The Word of God faithfully proclaimed against 
this as other sins, was to put an end to slavery ; and when 
heathen masters became Christian, and were acquainted with 
the laws of God in the Scriptures, then they would see and 
acknowledge the wickedness of this crime. 

But until then the converted slaves were enjoined to obey 

* Akchb. Potter, Grecian Antiquities, vol. ii., p. 55. Blair's Inquiry. 


their ignorant heathen masters, so far as they could do it con- 
sistently with the law of God and their supreme allegiance to 
their Saviour, and as far as possible to honor them, that they 
might not suppose that the Christian doctrine was a doctrine 
teaching disobedience, idleness, insolence, or pride and insub- 
ordination from servants to superiors. To avoid any danger 
of such perversion, any occasion of thus blaspheming God and 
Christianity, the converted slaves were enjoined even to be 
doubly careful and diligent to please their masters, for just 
the same reason that a wife was enjoined to use the same 
carefulness toward an unbelieving or heathenish husband, in 
order that if possible the unbelieving husband, ignorant of the 
Word, might be won to Christ by the sweet behavior of the 
wife. Just so with the converted slave, and his yet unenlight- 
ened, unconverted master. As long as he staid with him, he 
must endeavor doubly to honor and to please him, in order to 
win him, if possible, to an examination of the religious teach- 
ing and spirit which could produce such lovely fruits of pa- 
tient obedience and faithfulness. 

But it was only in regard to unbelieving heathen masters 
that this was spoken. It is such only who are supposed to 
continue to hold slaves. For the moment a man came to the 
knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, his eyes were opened 
by the word of God to see that the holding of men as prop- 
erty, the making merchandise of men, was a crime placed of 
God along with that of murder. The moment a man was 
converted, the gospel command came also upon him to give 
unto his servants that which was just and equal, and he learned 
that they were no longer slaves, but brethren beloved, and 
entitled to the rights of freemen under God's law. That 
which was just and equal involved, first of all, an entire relin- 
quishment of all claim of property in them and over them. A 
servant under such a master was no longer under the yoke, 
but freed from it by having a believing master. 

And now, in regard to this class of servants, who knew their 


freedom by the divine law, and knew that their masters also 
knew it, and were forbidden of God to treat them as slaves, 
but required to treat them as brethren ; remembering that 
the same Lord was their Lord and Master, and no respecter 
of persons; in regard to this class, admitted so suddenly into 
such an unaccustomed liberty, elevated to such an equality 
with their masters in Christ, the danger was of being puffed 
up with pride, and despising their masters, instead of render- 
ing them due honor and obedience. They were, therefore, 
cautioned against despising their masters, because they were 
brethren, and being such were deprived by the law of God of 
all unrighteous despotic authority over them; and they were 
warned to render that obedience now out of love, which be- 
fore, beneath the yoke of slavery, they had been compelled to 
render out of fear and by compulsion. They must now be 
faithful to their masters as to Christ, and out of love to Christ, 
rendering them service* because they also were believers in 
Jesus, Christian brethren, partakers of his love. 

The servants under the yoke could not break the yoke, but 
must bear it patiently. But when the law of God came to 
the conscience of the master, and when he was converted, 
then came the conviction of the criminality of slavery, and the 
command to break every yoke, and to give liberty, every man 
to his neighbor, and every man to his brother. None but 
heathen masters maintained that yoke.* Christian masters 

* Compare the Epistle to Philemon presented by the apostle as synony- 

for the practical proof of emancipa- mous with being under the yoke ; the 

tion. Also the testimonies previously having a Christian master is synony- 

adduced. Adam Clarke (Comm. on mous with being freed from the yoke. 

1 Tim. vi., 1) remarks that " the word "We find that even among the 

dovhoi here means slaves converted slaves there were Christian converts, 

to the Christian faith ; and the fwyov, to whom, though he recommends sub- 

or yoke, is the state of slavery ; and mission and contentment, yet he inti- 

by decjTTOTai, masters or desjiots, wo mates that if they could get their 

are to understand the heathen masters freedom, they should prefer it ; and 

of those Christianized slaves." he strongly charges those that were 

The having a heathen master is free not to become again the slaves 


were required to break it, and it would seem from this very- 
text that they did break it ; for this is the very point of con- 
trast between believing and unbelieving masters, that while 
the latter maintained that yoke of slavery, by the former it 
was broken. 

The servants of Christian masters were no longer slaves, but 
free servants, brethren beloved ; and Christian masters were 
no longer slaveholders, but forbidden to be such, and required, 
as in the case of Philemon, to regard and treat their servants 
no longer as slaves, but above that condition, as brethren in 
Christ, and not slaves at all, not permitted to be treated as 
such in any way. The law of God forbids it, and how much 
more the gospel of Christ, the love of Christ, in addition to 
that law, and in fulfillment of it. 

Bloomfield remarks on 1 Tim. vi., 1, that " it was obvious 
that the spirit of the gospel is adverse to slavery. Indeed, 
in proportion as its injunctions are obeyed, it tends to root out 
a practice in tchich folly and injustice are alike conspicuous." 
This admission is enough. There can not, by any possibility, 
be any precept in the gospel of God sanctioning or command- 
ing a practice which the spirit of the gospel condemns, a prac- 
tice conspicuous for folly and injustice, and known, by the 
testimony of the gospel, to be a crime. 

Bloomfield adds that "it was natural for persons so ignorant 
as slaves to regard the gospel as freeing men from all obliga- 
tions intrinsically and fundamental!}'' inconsistent with justice 
and equity." And who is there, with a right knowledge of 
the law of God, that can regard the gospel in any other way? 
No enlightened Christian man can regard as obligatory by 

of men, which, in a Christian, would ter of what color or complexion, is a 

be a disgrace to his redemption by high offense against the holy and 

Christ." just God, and a gross and uuprinci- 

" The Christian religion does not pled attack on the liberty and rights 

abolish our civil connections ; but of our fellow-creatures. — Clarke on 

slavery, and all buying and selling of 1 Cor. vii., 23. 
the bodies and souls of men, no mat- 


the gospel what is intrinsically and fundamentally unjust. It 
needed not the ignorance of a slave to regard the gospel as 
freeing men from such obligations, for it was the enlighten- 
ment of every Christian to know that what is in itself intrin- 
sically and fundamentally unjust is forbidden by the gospel. 
If slavery is " intrinsically and fundamentally inconsistent with 
justice and ccpiity," then it is inherently sinful, sin per se, and 
only for the sake of honoring Christ, by obedience to heathen 
masters, was the relation itself to be endured by the subject 
of it, and then only in such things as were not unrighteous 
before God.* 

Bloomfield says, on Eph. vi., 5, "The apostle does not in- 
terfere with any established relations, however morally and 
politically wrong, as in the case of slaves." It is a good ad- 
mission, that slavery is a relation morally and politically 
wrong. But that admission is fatal to the idea that the apos- 
tle does not interfere. The gospel is in every part an inter- 
ference with whatever is morally wrong, and forbids it. If 
there be any thing contrary to sound doctrine, according to 
the gospel, against that, says the apostle, our preaching is to 
be directed. It being admitted that the relation of slavery 
is morally wrong, it is morally impossible that Christians 
should be permitted to sustain that relation. It is morally 
certain that the gospel forbids it, and that, under the gospel, 

* See also Calvin, comra. on Titus ought to allow us to be silent, ichile 
ii., 9. He restricts the duty of obe- justice is violated by their froward- 
dience to those things that are right ness. For in this case silence is a 
(quai recta sunt), and excepts every kind of consent." 
thing that is not according to the will See also Neander, Church Hist. 
of God (ne quid nisi secundum Deum). Relation of Christianity to Govern- 
Also Calvin on Ex. ii., 14. " It is meat. " God should be obeyed rather 
the common duty of all believers than man, and every consideration, 
when the innocent are harshly treated even of property and life itself, should 
to take their part, and as far as pos- be disregarded, in all cases where hu- 
sible to interpose, lest the stronger man power demanded an obedience 
should prevail. It can scarcely be contrary to the laws and ordinances 
done without exasperating those who of God," vol. i., p. 359. 
are disposed to evil ; but nothing 


no person can rightfully be a slaveholder. The relation being 
admitted to be morally wrong, it is morally certain that the 
early churches could not have permitted slaveholding in their 
communion. Hence the power of such a spontaneous testi- 
mony as that of Augustine, against treating servants as things, 
as property; and that of Isidore, that he did not suppose that 
any Christian could keep a slave. 

Neander remarks of the relation of slavery, that " a rela- 
tion must necessarily fall of itself which is opposed to the 
Christian universal philanthropy, and to the ideas spread by 
Christianity respecting the equal destiny and dignity of all 
men, as created in the image of God, and called to rule over 

The spirit of Christianity never could abolish that which the 
law of Christianity established as just and right. The argu- 
ment is absurd, which at one and the same time pretends a 
sanction of slavery in the Word of God, and then claims that 
if it be let alone, if there be no agitation or disturbance, the 
spirit of the gospel will in due time destroy it. If it be sanc- 
tioned in the Word of God, then the spirit of the gospel can 
not be against it. But both law and spirit condemn and for- 
bid it.f 

The laws which the great Deliverer and Redeemer of man- 
kind gave for the government of his kingdom were those of 
universal justice and benevolence, and as such were subversive 
of every system of tyranny and oppression. J "To suppose, 
therefore, as has been rashly asserted, that Jesus or his apos- 
tles gave their sanction to the existing systems of slavery 
among the Greeks and Romans, is to dishonor them. That 
the reciprocal duties of masters and servants (SovXoi) were in- 

* Neander's Memorials of Chris- ness of the impression that slavery 

lian Life, p. G2. finds a place in God's Word. 

\ Saalschctz, Das Afosaische RecMe, % See the admirable views of the 

vol. ii. This German writer on the Christian argument in Dr. Andrew 

Mosaic legislation corrects some fun- Thomson's Sermon and Speeches> 

damental errors, and shows the false- page 7. 


culcated, admits, indeed, of no doubt. But the performance 
of these duties on the part of the masters, supposing them to 
have been slave masters, would have been tantamount to the 
utter subversion of the relation. The character of the existing 
slavery was utterly inconsistent with the entire tenor of the 
moral and humane principles of the precepts of Jesus."* 

But no matter if the character and quality of that slavery 
had been less severe ; the relation itself is always inconsistent 
with Christianity. Hence the righteous testimony of one of 
the very tew ecclesiastical bodies that have at any time spoken 
authoritatively and plainly against this sin, " the United Pres- 
byterian Church of North America," against the sin of slave- 
holding, as " a disqualification for membership in the church 
of Christ." " It is the relation itself, which we have examined 
in the light of Scripture, and which we have found to be so 
inconsistent with it, and not the many cruel laws which 
blacken the statute-books of the slaveholding States, and the 
many gross and fearful evils that result from this relation."! 

"I flatter myself," said the eloquent Dr. Andrew Thomson 
of Edinburgh, " that I have said enough to show that those 
who take shelter under Christianity, as if that afforded any 
countenance to the slave system, are either ignorant or re- 
gardless of that revelation of Divine mercy ; that when they 
appeal to the Scriptures as sanctioning what they are so un- 
willing to renounce, they do nothing less than put a blas- 
phemous commentary on the contents of that sacred vol- 

Titus ii., 9, 10. "Exhort servants (fiovXovg) to be obedient 
unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things, 
not answering again, not purloining, but showing all good 
fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour 
in all things." The same remarks are to be made on this 

* Wright, Kitto's Cyclop. Art. Slave. 

\ Testimony of the United Presb. Ch. of N. Am., 1858, p. 31. 

% Andrew Thomson, Slavery condemned by Christianity, page 91. 


passage as on the passages in Ephesians and Timothy, contain- 
ing the same instructions. They are suitable for all time, for 
all generations, for all possible conditions of society, to the 
end of the world ; for there is no intimation, or indication, or 
sanction of slavery in them ; the relation of masters and ser- 
vants being intended of God to belong to free Christian soci- 
ety, as long as the world stands, but of masters and slaves, 
never; this relation being forbidden, not only in the original 
law condemning to death the man who holds his fellow-man 
as property, but also in the command to masters to give unto 
their servants that which is just and equal. 

The exhortations to servants to obey their masters no more 
intimate that it was right for those masters to hold them as 
slaves, than the command to love your enemy intimates that 
it is right for any one to be your enemy, or than the command 
to bless them that curse you, and do good to those that per- 
secute you, intimates that it is light for men to curse you and 
to persecute you. It might as soundly and properly be argued 
that malignant enemies and persecutors of Christians may 
themselves be good Christians, and that the relation of a 
cruel enemy and persecutor to the victim of such cruelty was 
a Christian relation, as that the holders of Christians as prop- 
erty may be good Christians, or the relation of a slaveholder 
to the slave a Christian relation. 

The old Hebrew law, and not the Roman law, or the Gre- 
cian law and custom in Crete or Athens,* is the glass through 
which this relation must be viewed. Viewed thus, it is in- 
stantly seen to be criminal before God ; it is seen as con- 
demned in his Word, and there is no possibility of any thing 
forbidden in the moral law of God in the Old Testament be- 
ing sanctioned by the gospel in the New. God's Word, and 
not the custom or law of society, is the tribunal at which 
every custom and law among men must be tried. He who 

* Thirlwall, History of Greece, Slavery in Crete, cb. 7, 121, and in Ath- 
ens, 187. Grots, Hist. Greece, voL iii., eh. xL 



appealed for the guide and sanction of his own life to the Old 
Testament, and referred to that supreme rule in the words, 
It is written, never could have sanctioned in custom that 
which God, in writing, had forbidden ; and that God had for- 
bidden the claim of property in man is indisputable.* It is 
that claim, and the application of it, in law and in practice, 
that constitutes the essence of slavery, and without which 
slavery could not exist.f 

* Blackstone, Commentaries, vol.i., 
B. i., eh. xiv. Repugnancy of slavery 
to reason and the principles of natural 
law. That such a state should sub- 
sist anywhere, he says, is thus repug- 
nant. And all the three origins of the 
pretended right of slavery, assigned by 
Justinian, he shows to be false and in- 
iquitous, contrary to the law of nature 
and of reason. " Upon these princi- 
ples the law of England abhors, and 
will not endure the existence of slav- 
ery within the nation." It is not to 
be endured that a slaveholding Chris- 
tianity should set revealed religion 
against the natural conscience of man- 
kind, or by a false interpretation of 
the gospel set that against the law, or 
by perversion of both, make each ap- 
pear contrary both to God and nature. 

f Dr. Andrew Thomson, Sermon 
and Speeches. " Shame on those who 
have so far taxed their ingenuity, and 
so far consulted their selfishness, and 
so far forgotten their Christian name, 
as to apologize for the existence of 
slavery by extolling the incomparable 
superiority of spiritual freedom, and 
dragging in the aid and countenance 
of Scripture, misstated or misunder" 
stood. Slavery ! the tempter, and the 
murderer, and the tomb of virtue ! It 
must be put an end to, and without 
delay, for every day's procrastination 
only adds to the guilt of those who 
indulge in it, and sets at defiance the 
very first principles and maxims on 
which a true Christian feels himself 
constrained to act." (Pages 28 and 


Evidence from the Epistle of Paul to Philemon.— Supposed Position and Char- 
acter of Philemon and Onesimus.— Question as to the Fugitive Hebrew Law.— 
Pauls Practical Answer.— Facts from toe Analysis of the Epistle.— Preju- 
dices of the Commentators.— Key to the Interpretation of the Epistle.— Its 
Demonstration against Slavery. 

"Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, unto Philemon, our 
fellow laborer, and to the church in thy house." The epistle 
was written during Paul's first imprisonment at Rome, and 
was sent, together with the epistles to the Ephesians and Co- 
lossians,* by Tyehicus and Onesimus, about the ninth year of 
the Emperor Nero, or 63 of our Lord.f Philemon's residence 
was in Colosse, as appears from Col. iv., 9, where Onesimus, 
the servant of Philemon, is said to be one of the Colossians. 
Theodoret says that Philemon's house was still standing in 
Colosse in his time, that is, in the commencement of the fifth 
century.J Grotius supposed that Philemon was an elder in 
the church at Ephesus. Michaelis regarded him as a deacon. 
Doddridge supposes him to have been one of the pastors of 
the church at Colosse, colleague with Archippus.§ Lardner 
thinks it not certain whether he were an elder or a private 
Christian. If he had been an elder, Lardner thinks he must 
have known his duty better than to have needed so pressing 
an exhortation to receive a Christian brother. | Paley and 

* Paley, Hor. Paul., ch. vi. See % Lardner, Works, vol. vi., 77. 

also Kitto, Cycl., Art. Oxesimus. § Doddridge, Preface to Phil and 

f But Lightfoot supposes the year Notes. Fam. Exp., 948. 

60. "Works, vol. hi., 301. | Lardner, vol. vi., 78, 131. 


Lardner suppose that Paul had before known both Philemon 
and Onesimus.* And Beausobre and Lardner supposed that 
Onesimus' knowledge of Paul, as the friend of Philemon, in- 
duced him to visit Paul at Rome. 

Paley says that Onesimus was the servant or slave of Phi- 
lemon. But Paley's acute observations in the comparison of 
the epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, and to Philemon, 
make it plain that the two latter, and, perhaps, all three 
epistles, may have been intrusted to Tychicus and Onesimus 
in one and the same commission ; a thing not very likely if 
Onesimus was coming back as a slave to Philemon, to he his 
property for ever.f The supposition has been almost universal 
that Onesimus was set free by Philemon ; but, in fact, Paul's 
own epistle is a rescript for the freedom of Onesimus, if he 
had ever been a slave; and the very commission with which 
he was immediately entrusted shows that he was considered 
as free by Paul and Tychicus and the Colossians. When Ig- 
natius wrote his epistle to the Ephesians, about the year 107, 
their bishop's name was Onesimus; and Grotius concludes 
him to be the same Onesimus who was converted and sent 
back by Paul. Lardner thought that some persons might be 
unwilling to admit that Philemon himself could have been a 
bishop or elder of the church, " because he was a man of sub- 
stance, who had one slave at least, or more."J 

* Paley. Hor.e Paulina, 229. spring were slaves, following the con- 

f Poli, Synopsis, vol. v., 1108. dition of the mother." 
"Returned as one free; not as was % Lardxer, vol. vi., 78. It was a 

customary with fugitives, to send just and natural conclusion, a Chris- 

them back bound, or under a keeper." tian conclusion. But the argument 

Again, "Non ut retraction, exfuga, aut is equally forcible against his being a 

"at,, sed aut sponte reversum," member of the church, and still main- 

of his own accord returning, and not taining the claim of property in man. 

as one apprehended in flight. Yet The laws of Christianity forbade that 

one of the suppositions made by this claim ; and if those laws were made 

commentator concerning Onesimus is known by the apostles, they must 

that "he may have been a natural have been respected, at least until the 

brother of Philemon, begotten by his corruptions of Christianity carried away 

father of a slave girl, for such oil'- its integrity and purity as with a flood. 


But Macknight supposes that Philemon, on the contrary, had 
a number of slaves, on whom, if he pardoned Onesimus too 
easily, the escape from punishment for running away would 
have had a bad effect. And the methods of punishment were 
notoriously dreadful. But Macknight conceives that Paul 
presented to Philemon "the obligation he lay under to him, 
for having made his unprofitable slave a faithful and affection- 
ate servant to him for life. By telling Philemon that he would 
now have Onesimus for ever, the apostle intimated to him his 
firm persuasion that Onesimus would never any more run away 
from him."* And even Doddridge says, "that he might not 
only be dear and useful to thee during all the remainder of 
his life as a servant, whose ear, as it were, is bored to the door 
of thine house (to allude to the Hebrew custom, Ex. xxi., 6), 
but a source of eternal delight," etc. And Hug says, " that 
Paul was restoring property which was then of considerable 
value, and was, moreover, returning it to its owner in an im- 
proved condition."! And Poole, in answer to the question, 
Why did not Paul in plain terms ask Philemon to emancipate 
his slave ? says, " Perhaps it would have been too costly a de- 
mand. For slaves were very useful to their masters, and 
made a good part of their possessions.''^ 

Such are some of the preliminary suppositions and prejudices 
with which men have set Paul the apostle to the business of 
writing a pro-slavery document to comfort a rich Christian 
slaveholder with the assurance that his property in human 
flesh was more secure than ever. Had this Epistle been ren- 
dered through the eye of the Old Testament, under the guid- 
ance of which it was written, very different conclusions would 
have been drawn from it. Let us examine the proof. 

Verses 8-21. "Wherefore, though I might be much bold 
in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, (9.) yet for 

* Macknight, Apostolical Epistles, 498. 

f Hug's Introd. to the N. T. ; Ep. to Phil., 555. 

f Poli, Synop., vol v. 


love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul 
the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. (10.) I be- 
seech thee, for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in 
my bonds ; (11.) which in time past was to thee unprofitable, 
but now profitable to thee and to me; (12.) whom I have 
sent again ; thou, therefore, receive him ; that is, mine own 
bowels. (13.) Whom I would have retained with me, that in 
thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of 
the gospel ; (14.) but without thy mind would I do nothing, 
that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but 
willingly. (15.) For perhaps he therefore departed for a sea- 
son, that thou shouldst receive him forever. (16.) Not now 
as A servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, espe- 
cially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the 
flesh and in tiie Lord. (17.) If thou count me, therefore, 
a partner, receive him as myself. (18.) If he hath wronged 
thee, or oweth thee aught, put that on mine account. (19-) I, 
Paul, have written it with mine own hand, I Mill repay it ; 
albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even 
thine own self besides. (20.) Yea, brother, let me have joy 
of thee in the Lord; refresh my bowels in the Lord. (21.) 
Having confidence in thy obedience, I wrote unto thee, know- 
ing that thou wilt also do more than I say." 

Of this it is to be noted that it is the conclusion and climax 
of all Paul's instructions on the subject of slavery. It might 
have been asked by the disciples, to whom any of his Epistles 
had come, referring to the treatment of servants, " But what 
are we to do, under the Roman empire, with the laws of God 
in regard to fugitives ?* We are told that if the slave may 

* Josephus, Book 6, chap, vi., Jud. of God against men t -stealers, mur- 

Bell. — Laws of the Jews. That these derers, and defilers of themselves 

laws were still of force, Paul himself with mankind were not abrogated, 

teaches in 1 Tim. i., 9, by his refer- neither were those against the betray- 

ence to the whole body of moral pre- ers of fugitives ; if the ardpaTrodiarat, 

cepts and forbiddings, and his instruc- were objects of the divine reprobation, 

tions to have them enjoined in the so were the fugitivarii, the man-hunt- 

preaching of the gospel. If the laws ers, the avdpanwayoi. Josephus, 



be made free, be is to use it rather, and that we must not be 
the slaves of men. But now suppose he runs away, what are 
we Christians to do with him ? 

The answer of Paul says, practically, in this Epistle, 

1. You are to shelter him, and not to oppress him. 

2. On no account give any notice of him, nor betray the 
wanderer, but he shall abide with thee, in one of thy gates, in 
that place where it liketh him best.* 

3. Instruct him in the gospel, and by the grace of God con- 
vert him to Christ. 

4. If he have had a Christian master, and you are confident 
in that master's piety and benevolence, then you may give no- 
tice to such a master (and send your letter or message by the 
fugitive himself) that you have sent him back to be emanci- 

referring to the fact of the Jewish 
laws being acknowledged, records a 
speech of Titus to the Jews, noting 
the liberality of the Romans ia this 
respect. " We have preserved to you 
the laws of your forefathers, and per- 
muted you to live as it should please 
you, by yourselves or with others, 
permitted you also to collect your sa- 
cred tribute." 

Now it is not to be supposed that 
the laws contained iu the books of 
Exodus or Deuteronomy, or in the 
twenty-first and twenty-third chapters 
of those books, were considered as 
abrogated, while those of Leviticus 
were enforced; or that, while the 
laws against perjurers were binding, 
those against delivering up the fugi- 
tive, those protecting the fugitive 
from oppression and securing his free- 
dom, were of none effect. The laws 
of Rome can not be proved to have 
been considered by Paul and his fel- 
low Christians as more binding than 
the laws of God. 

* Josephus, . Antiq., B. xv., ch. 9. 
Josephus remarks concerning Herod, 
that " the liberality and submissive 
behavior which he exercised toward 
Caesar and the most powerful men of 
Rome, obliged him to transgress the 
customs of his nation, and to set aside 
many of their laws." 

Suppose such a testimony as this to 
have been given respecting Paul, that 
judging himself brought under Roman 
law, and obliged to cultivate the favor 
of the court, and to avoid giving of- 
fense, he had been compelled in some 
things to set aside and transgress the 
law of God, though he had command- 
ed Timothy to preach it ! The suppo- 
sition is shameful. Yet such, iu fact, 
is the course of conduct attributed to 
him, in supposing that out of regard to 
the Roman law he would set at 
nought the Divine law, and at the 
command of GYesar return into slavery 
a fugitive whom God had commanded 
him to protect. 



patcd ; that by the law of God his master is bound to receive 
Mm, and treat him as a brother, but no longer as a slave ; that 
in every respect, just as Paul would have a right to be 
treated as a freeman, just so has he. You are to commit the 
fugitive to his own care, and not to denounce him to the au- 
thorities, nor commit him to the keeping of any marshal. He 
is not to be rendered up as if he were a prisoner, or had com- 
mitted an offense, but is to be intrusted, as a Christian brother, 
and a freeman, Avith the letter missive, demanding his free papers. 
These things are clear from the analysis of this Epistle. 
Some other things are equally clear. 

1. From verses 8-10, the assertion is clear that Paul could 
of right, in Christ's name, enjoin upon Philemon by command- 
ment the freedom and brotherly kindness which, for love's 
sake, he asks for Onesimus. 

2. From verse 1 1 the conclusion is clear that slavery is un- 
profitable, while freedom and piety are profitable. 

3. From verses 11, 15, 16, the conclusion is manifest that 
freedom, and not slavery, is the cause of piety ; that not 
slavery, but the escape from it, and the hearing of the gospel 
in freedom, is the true missionary institute, attended with 
converting grace. If Onesimus had remained with Philemon, 
and been treated as a slave, there is no proof that he would 
ever have been converted. He is said to have " departed" 
from Philemon, and getting to Rome he met with Paul, and 
being affectionately received and protected by him, he opened 
his heart to him, and was converted. 

4. From verse 13 it is evident that Paul held that he had a 
right to have retained Onesimus, if Onesimus chose to be in 
his service, and that he was not bound by any pretended right 
of Philemon in him as property, or in his services, against his 
own will. " Whom I would have retained with me, that in 
thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of 
the gospel." If Onesimus had been considered as Philemon's 
property, then the very design of retaining him, without buying 


him, as well as the having kept him so long, without any no- 
tice to Philemon, would have been a dishonesty ; just as much 
as if Paul had found a note of a thousand denarii belonging 
to Philemon, and had kept it a considerable time, and had 
then sent word to Philemon that he would have kept it alto- 
gether, but preferred on the whole that Philemon should 
have the opportunity of giving it of his own accord. 

" But without thy mind," Paul says, " I would do nothing ;» 
not because he intimates that that would have been wrong, in 
retaining Onesimus; but that it would have deprived Phile- 
mon of the privilege of doing of his own accord what Paul , 
could have justly required of him ; " that thy benefit should 
not be of necessity, but as it were willingly." Thy benefit, 
to dyadov gov, thy privilege of conferring the benefit, thy 
good deed, thy benefit both to Onesimus, and to Paul through 
him, and thus also a benefit to Philemon himself; thy benefit 
in conferring a benefit.* 

5. He gives Philemon the privilege of consenting that 
Onesimus should become a helper of Paul in the gospel. It 
was not, as some have intimated, as a personal servant, that 
Paul would have retained him, but as a minister unto him, in 
and of the gospel, as Philemon himself, or Tychicus, or Timo- 
thy might have been. But he gives Philemon the privilege 
of relinquishing all his former claims upon him for service, and 
of yielding him up spontaneously, at the claim of duty and of 
Christ's love, for Christ's service. 

6. In verse 15 Paul intimates that it was by the Divine 
Providence that Onesimus " departed from him," for a sea- 
son, on purpose that, being converted during his absence, he 
might be received back in the eternal relation of a Christian 
brother, but no longer as a slave. Paul does not intimate 
that Philemon ran away, or that he was guilty of any crime 
in so doing, if he did run away, but uses concerning his de 

* See Robinson's Lex. K T. on the word, Bloomfield, in loc, Whitby on 
the same, Calvin, in Epist. v., 14, Doddridge on the same, Poole, Annot. 


parture the same language (e%6jp« <?#?/) as is used in Acts i., iv., 
and xviii., 12, of the departure of the disciples and of Paul 
from Jerusalem and Athens, and Romans viii., 35, Who shall 
separate us from the love of Christ ? It is inconceivable, if 
Onesimus was the property of Philemon (and if so, then the 
most sacred of all property), and had stolen himself out of 
Philemon's power, committing thus the crime of man-stealing, 
that Paul should not so much as hint at any thing criminal or 
wrong in this action, but should leave it to be considered an 
innocent departure. The commentators call it a euphemism • 
but Paul was not wont thus to conceal a great crime under 
soft and flattering language. Had it been a crime in Onesi- 
mus to depart from Philemon, Paul would have stated it. 

7. Some other things he does distinctly state, namely, that 
Onesimus is to be received back, not now as a servant, oviierc 
ug SovXov, no more as a servant, or slave (see Robinson, Lex., 
ovueri, no more, no further, no longer), distinctly, not again as 
a slave, no more a slave, but above a slave, a brother beloved. 
If Paul sought to express as clearly as possible the fact that 
Philemon was to be free, was no more to be a slave, could no 
longer be held as such (even if he had been before), he could 
not have used more pointed language. The thing is as posi- 
tive as words can make it, no longer as a slave. It is an ex- 
ample of the impossibility of a Christian being a slaveholder, 
and of the manner in which fugitives from slavery were always 
to be treated by Christians, as brethren, and not as slaves. 

8. To prevent all possibility of doubt, to cut off all oppor- 
tunity of evasion by resorting to the pretense that this free- 
dom was merely Christian freedom in the Lord, or the privi- 
lege of being beloved as a brother in Christ, notwithstanding 
the continuance of slavery, it is distinctly added and declared 
that Onesimus is to be received by Philemon not merely as by 
Paul, in the character of a brother beloved in Christ, but as a 
brother also in the flesh ; not as a servant, but above a ser- 
vant, a brother beloved, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 


This can have no other meaning than that Onesimus could 
no longer sustain the relation of a slave to Philemon in the 
flesh any more than in the Lord, but was a brother in both 
senses, so that he could not be a slave, nor could Philemon as 
a Christian hold him as such any more than he could have 
been supposed to hold his own brother as property, or use 
him as merchandise. 

9. To all this is added another requisition and characteristic 
of perfect equality and freedom, "If thou count me & partner 
(kocvovov) receive him as myself." For the meaning of this, 
compare 2 Cor. viii., 23. " Whether any do inquire of Titus, 
he is my partner and fellow-helper." Also Luke v., 10. "The 
sons of Zebedee, partners with Simon." Make a common 
friend and partner of both of us, him as myself. (See Robinson 
on the word and its cognates, in Lex. of N. T.) 

10. "If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee aught, put 
that on mine account." It is not here asserted that Onesimus 
had wronged Philemon. On the contrary, it is very clearly 
intimated (as well as in verse 15) that his departure was not a 
wrong ; had that been a wrong, it would have been (if Onesi- 
mus were of right a slave) the highest kind of robbery, and 
Paul could not have questioned it. What an insult it would 
have been to send back Onesimus as a criminal, guilty of such 
robbery, and at the same time coolly to write concerning him 
to his owner, If he hath wronged thee, charge it to me ! If, 
according to the interpolations of some paraphrasts, Onesimus 
had been the property of Philemon, and the value of that 
property had been greatly increased by his conversion (the 
presence of the Holy Spirit in him constituting him a much 
more precious piece of property than he was before, which is 
the hideous sense that some commentators put upon the 11th 
verse), then the proposition of Paul to set Onesimus free 
would have been just a demand upon Philemon for the sacri- 
fice of a considerable sum of money; and on the same princi- 
ples of generosity and justice on which Paul offers to pay any 


thing that Onesimus might he owing to Philemon, Paul must 
also have offered to purchase Onesimus, and pay for him. To 
demand that Philemon should give him to Paul, and then for 
Paul to offer to jiay a few pitiful dehts that Onesimus was 
owing to Philemon, would he somewhat like asking a man to 
give you five hundred dollars, and then offering to settle for 
him a neglected hill of his last year's water-tax. 

11. There is no intimation of Onesimus having robbed Phi- 
lemon, and fled from him as a thief. Such suppositions and 
assertions are gratuitous and unfounded, as Bloomfield, Mac- 
knight and others have noted. There is not the slightest inti- 
mation in the epistle to the Colossians, where Onesimus is 
mentioned, of any allegation against him, nor of his being a 
slave, any more than Tychicus ; but he is mentioned as a faith- 
ful and beloved brother, along with Aristarchus, Marcus, Jus- 
tus, E]3aphras, " who is one of you" (the very same words used 
in regard to Onesimus), in the same epistle in which it is de- 
clared that in the church there is neither distinction of Greek 
nor Jew, bond nor free, and in -which masters are commanded 
to give unto their servants that which is just and equal. One- 
simus is no more considered a slave than Epaphras. 

12. Paul's confidence in Philemon's obedience is to be noted. 
The command was, as well as request, to receive Onesimus, 
not as a servant, but as a brother. Paul had no right to com- 
mand Philemon to do any thing but what the law of God and 
the gospel of Christ enjoined upon him. But in this he makes 
no question of his obedience. The dignity of his authority 
in Christ is thus united with the persuasive tenderness and 
courtesy of Christian love.* That Onesimus was considered 
by Paul as free is plain from his being intrusted, along with 
Tychicus (both mentioned by name in Col. iv., 7, 9), with the 
apostle's letter and messages to the saints and faithful brethren 
in Colosse. No difference whatever is put by Paul between 
Onesimus and Tychicus. They are both called faithful and 

* This point is noted by Paley, in Hona Paulince, with emphasis. 


beloved brethren, and it is added, "They shall make known 
unto you all things which are done here." 

At the same time Onesimus was intrusted with the epistle 
to Philemon, and he must have known its contents, and the 
conditions on which, with his own consent, Paul was sending 
him on this mission. He was free ; nor could Philemon have 
retained him as a servant, except with his own and Paul's con 
sent ; as a slam he could not have received him at all, but was 
forbidden from maintaining any such claim or relation, not 
only by the present epistle, but by the principle laid down in 
that to the Colossians, iv., 1, Masters, give unto your ser- 
vants that which is just and equal. If, as a slave, Paul was 
sending back Onesimus, and if, as a slave, Philemon was to 
receive him, greatly increased in value, and bound to him for 
ever as his property, then the idea of Paul writing a letter to 
Philemon, humbly and affectionately beseeching him to do 
this for Christ's sake and for love's sake, is one of the great- 
est absurdities that could be imagined. 

For, consider the case of a slave worth a thousand or fifteen 
hundred dollars having escaped from a plantation at the South, 
and becoming a Christian at the North, his value being thus in- 
creased, say live hundred dollars, would any pious slave-catcher 
think it necessary, would the minister of religion, under whose 
instructions the slave was converted, think it necessary to write 
a humble, beseeching letter, entreating him, for Christ's sake, to 
receive back the fugitive as part of his plantation stock, and per- 
mit him to work for him without wages as his property? Mean- 
time the master has offered publicly a hundred dollars reward 
or more to any who would aid him in recovering his valuable 
property. How does the system work where we see it in prac- 
tice ? Do slave-catchers have to entreat the masters for the 
sake of Christ to condescend to receive back their valuable 
chattels ? It is ordinarily the case that they are glad enough to 
get them, though at the cost of great toil, expense and agitation. 

It is not to be endured that such absurdities should be 


fastened upon an inspired epistle, or that conduct, sentiments 
and arguments should be imputed to Paul, such as would dis- 
grace an intelligent heathen. Yet, so ingrained has the com- 
mon mind been with the supposition of the rightfulness of 
slavery, the moral sense so poisoned, so drugged with the idea 
of slavery being a system sanctioned of God, and through this 
incarnation of iniquity in the conscience so deadened to the 
shame of such sentiments imputed to the inspired writers, that 
even Conybeare and Howson have translated Paul's words 
(rendered in our translation, that thou shouldst receive him 
for ever) by the phrase, " that thou mightest possess him for 
eyer," and in the phrase following, they have interpolated the 
words "being thine" (not in the original), and instead of our 
common translation, which is " a brother beloved, especially 
to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh and in 
the Lord," they have added in the translation " being thine, 
both in the flesh and in the Lord." 

But these writers have also translated Paul, in 1 Cor. vii., 
21, as enjoining Christians to prefer slavery to freedom, even 
if they could have their choice ! Not a few of the commen- 
tators have, in respect to this subject, taken their stand point 
in the lowest level of Paganism, and have attempted to draw 
Christianity down upon that platform. Instead of consulting 
the Old Testament Scriptures, and interpreting the New ac- 
cordingly, disclosing the elevation of Judean and Christian 
society, produced by the Scriptures, and the divine spirit in 
them, above that of the whole world besides, they have 
adopted one of the worst vices of Pagan civilization as sanc- 
tioned of God, and then have put the interpretation of the 
gospels and epistles to the torture, in order to accommodate 
the Christian Scriptures to that sanction. We might have 
said the worst vices of a Pagan barbarism ; for what can be 
worse, what more diabolical on earth, than the system of 
slavery known to have come to its perfection in Greece and 
Rome, to which these interpreters would affix the seal and 


authority of divine inspiration ? They have carried the very 
words of the Holy Spirit to be stamped by the depravities of 
the Pagan world, and then circulated them, under such an 
image and superscription, as the exponents of Christianity. 

A consultation of some who have written on this epistle 
will give a vivid idea of the deadening and debasing power 
of slavery over the conscience and mind, wherever this wick- 
edness is defended or excused as right, and maintained as 
consistent with the gospel. The distortion and degradation 
of the moral sense are incredible. But nothing in this line 
could surprise us from writers who could paraphrase the fifth 
verse of the sixth chapter of Ephesians thus : "As the gospel 
does not cancel the civil rights of mankind, I say to bond- 
servants, obey your masters, who have the property op 
tour body, with fear and trembling, as liable to be punished 
by them for disobedience."* And yet, the very same com- 
mentator adds a note on the word man-stealers thus : " They 
who make war for the inhuman purpose of selling the van- 
quished as slaves, as is the practice of the African princes, are 
really man-stealers. And they who, like the African traders, 
encourage that unchristian traffic, by purchasing the slaves 
whom they know to be thus unjustly acquired, are partakers 
in their crime."f But how can slaves be ever acquired in any 
other way than unjustly? The purchase of slaves acquired 
in war is perhaps the least iniquitous mode of man-stealing ; 
but if the traffic be unchristian, it can be so only on the 
ground of the fact both of natural justice and divine revela- 

* MackhiGHT, Apostolical Epistles, " if any one teach that under the gos- 

Eph., ch. vi. pel slaves ought to be made free, he 

f M.yckxight on 1 Timothy L, 10. is puffed up with pride, knowing noth- 
And yet, on chapter vi, Macknight ing." He renders verse 6, " But god- 
reasons as if slaveholding was a right, liness with a competency is great 
to which masters are entitled by the gain ;" and according to the scope of 
law of nature, or the law of the coun- this reasoning, the paraphrase would 
try, which the Christian religion of rightly add that a certain number of 
course confirms! And a part of his slaves is the divine idea of a Christian 
paraphrase of the third verse is, that competency. 


tion, that human beings can not be property, and that the 
treatment of them as such is a crime in God's sight, and by 
God's law worthy of death.* 

The key to this epistle is in the grand old Hebrew fu- 
gitive law in Deut. xxiii., 15, 16. " Thou siialt not deliver 


master unto thee." Nearly all the commentators have neg- 
lected this law, have refrained from referring to it, and have 
sought to break open the epistle without using the key, or 
with false keys modeled by the slave power, so that they 
could rifle its contents by their own private interpretation for 
the sanction of slavery. Some have done this ignorantly, in 
unbelief; others are still doing it, in the bold avowal of the 
opinion that slavery is an institution of God, and that any 
shelter given to a fugitive slave is a violation of that religion 
and law which says, " Betray not the fugitive ; take away 
from the midst of thee the yoke ; give liberty every man to his 
brother and every one to his neighbor." Not in the law only, 
but in the prophets ; not in Deuteronomy only, but in Isaiah 
and Jeremiah and the Psalms, Paul's favorite books of con- 
sultation and of study, he would find such passages as the 
following, in connection with the statutes against holding and 
treating human beings as merchandise, and against oppressing 
and defrauding them : " Take counsel ; execute judgment ; 
make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday ; 
hide the outcasts ; betray not him that wandereth. Let mine 
outcasts dwell with thee ; be thou a covert to them from the 

* Blackstoxe on the Rights of " Political freedom was a great bless 

Persons, B. i., eh. xiv. Also, Intro- ing; but compared with personal, it 

duction, Law of Nature and of Revela- sunk to nothing. Personal freedom 

tion, sec. 2. See also Tucker's Light was the first right of every humau 

of Nature, and Coleridge on Self- being. It was a right of which he 

Evident Truths, and the necessity of who deprived his fellow creature was 

their repromulgation. Tiie Friend, absolutely criminal in so depriving 

Essay 8. Also, Humboldt, Cosmos, him, and which he who withheld was 

voL ii., 567, 568, and vol. L, 368. Also, no less criminal in withholding." 
Speeches of Fox and Wilberforce. 


face of the spoiler ; for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler 
ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land, and in 
mercy shall the throne be established."* 

Paul could not pass by such passages, nor ignore, nor misin- 
terpret God's laws against every form of man-stealing, though 
some of his interpreters can. It is a singular example of 
blindness and perversion, when the light of the Old Testament 
is carefully excluded from an epistle in the New. In every 
other case of examination of the meaning of the New Testa- 
ment, wherever there is any reference in the subject or the 
language to any Old Testament passage, the commentators 
have, of course, referred back to it. But in this veiy plain 
case of the epistle to Philemon as connected with the law in 
Deuteronomy, and the precepts in Isaiah and other books, the 
commentators have turned away from that light, and kept it 
from the subject, avoiding, with singular pertinacity, all allu- 
sion to the appointed mode of treating fugitives in the Old 
Testament, while maintaining that they must be punished as 
runaway slaves in the New, and that the utmost that the re- 
ligion of the gospel could do for them, toward shielding them 
from such cruelty, was humbly to beg their masters to refrain 
from such punishment ! While the piety of the Old Testa- 
ment is thus presented as noble, elevated and humane, that 
of the New is caricatured, in contrast, as mean, servile and 
oppressive. It is an insufferable slander of dishonesty and 
craftiness, a handling of the word of God deceitfully, a de- 
basement of the most precious coin of divine inspiration, for 
avaricious and inhuman purposes. 

Now it would be almost as gross a piece of ignorance or 
obstinacy, and of superficial investigation, under the power of 
prejudice, for a man to undertake an exposition of the epistle 
to the Hebrews, and of the nature of Christ's priesthood, 
without referring to the Levitical priesthood and the laws 
concerning that, as for a man to expound the epistle to Phile- 

* Is. xvi., 3, 4, 5. 


raon without referring to the Mosaic laws in regard to the 
treatment of servants and fugitives. It can not be ignorance ; 
for some of these very writers, as we have seen, quote, as illus- 
trative of Onesimus being received by Philemon forever, (as 
they affirm in their slave sense,) the custom of boring the ear 
of a Hebrew servant, when he entered into a new contract to 
serve his master till the jubilee ; and they intimate that Onesi- 
mus was sent back by Paul to have his ears bored and nailed 
to Philemon's service as his property for life ! To such an in- 
credible length has the prejudice in behalf of slavery gone, 
while the provisions in behalf of justice and mercy are con- 
cealed or forgotten ! And so the word of God is ingeniously 
(and sometimes unconsciously) tortured, to compel some ap- 
pearance of the sanction of the greatest iniquity of modern 
times ! 

Paul must have had God's law in respect to the treatment 
of fugitives directly before him in the case of Onesimus, and 
he could not have avoided consulting it for light. It was a 
guide to him in this particular instance ; and his epistle to 
Philemon proves him to have acted according to it, under the 
confidence of Philemon's own Christian character, committing 
to him the performance of the appointed duty of benevolence 
to Onesimus as a Christian brother and freeman, jiermitted to 
dwell where it might like him best, in that place where he 
should choose, and not oppressing him. Paul himself, in the 
first place, gives him shelter in his own hired house. He 
does not betray him. He does not deliver him up into the 
power of his master as a fugitive. He does not send word to 
him to come up to Rome, prove property in his slave, pay 
charges, and take him away. He kindly protects and in- 
structs him. He then at length sends him back, with his own 
consent, as a trusted and honored messenger and brother, as 
free as Tychicus (Col. iv., 7, 9), with a message for the breth- 
ren at Colosse, and a command to Philemon from divine in- 
spiration, as well as the affectionate entreaty of Paul's love 



concerning his freedom. He does not accuse Onesimus of 
running away wrongfully, does not intimate that he commit- 
ted any wrong in escaping. He states, on the contrary, that 
perhaps it was by the merciful providence of God that he de- 
parted from him for a season that he might be received back, 
no more as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved.* 
He commands Philemon to receive him as he would Paul 
himself, as a partner. Whatever Avrong Onesimus may have 
done to Philemon, whatever he may have been owing to him, 
Paul does not intimate that it was in running away from him, 
but during his unprofitable state of bondage to him, which 
state now ceases ; and in order that there might be no shadow 
of claim remaining from Philemon against Onesimus whereby 
he might have said, I will keep you still in bondage till you 
work out your debt, Paul takes all Onesimus' debts upon 
himself, whatever they might be, and becomes security for 
him.f The result is, Onesimus a freeman.^ 

* Saalschutz, Jfos. Recht Laws of 
Moses, p. 715. Saalschutz remarks 
upon the singular felicity of the laws 
by which, if a heathen slave happened 
to have been sold in Judea, he could 
escape from his master, and the whole 
Hebrew world were forbidden to do 
any thing toward bringing him back, 
but were bound of God to shelter the 
fugitive. It was impossible that Paul 
could have despised that law. 

f Poli, Synopsis, vol. v., in Epist. 
ad Phil. Poole does not once refer to 
the law of God forbidding the deliver- 
ing up of fugitives, but he does refer 
to the Roman law requiring it, and 
remarks "that the reason why Paul 
was not willing to keep Onesimus 
was because of the very heavy penal- 
ties of the Roman laws against re- 
ceiving or retaining fugitive slaves." 
Men would seem to imagine that Paul 
was more afraid of breaking the law 
of Rome than of God. 

% "Wallox, Histoire d'Esclavage 
dans TAntiquite, voL iii., ch. 1. This 
writer declares that in the example ol 
Paul and the precepts of the New 
Testament, Christianity had already 
accomplished the emancipation of the 
slave. "Paul received the fugitive, 
taught him, and sent him to his mas- 
ter, NO more a slave, but a brother, 
equal, both before the world and before 
God." The duty and the work of 
emancipation are here complete and 

Josiah Coxder, in his work on tho 
Literary History of the New Testa- 
ment, p. 440, also affirms that " in the 
epistle to Philemon, who has been, by 
an absurd abuse of terms, styled a 
slaveholder, St. Paul has pronounced a 
more emphatic condemnation of slave- 
holding by Christians than could have 
been conveyed by more direct prohi- 


Evidence from Hebrews, James, Peter, and tiie Apocalypse. 

Hebrews xiii., 3. " Remember them that are in bonds, as 
bound with them." Doubtless, from the phraseology em- 
ployed in this passage, and in others where the same words 
occur, the primary application of it is to those in imprison- 
ment for Christ, or bound icith this chain, (Acts xxviii., 20,) as 
was Paul at Rome, or those condemned by their persecutors 
to labor in the mines, or under chains ; but in general it com- 
prehends those under the galling yoke of slavery, those whose 
heathen masters knew no rule of conduct toward their slaves 
but that of the supreme ownership and inexorable severities of 
the Roman law, by which they were treated not as persons 
but as things, as slaves are in America.* These were to be 
remembered in prayer, and in every way of possible compas- 
sion, just as the Christians themselves, to whom Paul was 
writing, would desire to be remembered, if they were in 
this deplorable condition, by those who enjoyed the blessed- 
ness of freedom. The words employed are 6eauio)v and ovv- 
dn6z\itivoi ; but every slave is in a bondage incomparably worse 
than was that of Paul, the prisoner of Jesus, and under chains 
of ownership as a thing, a chattel, more galling, more dread- 

* Compare Stroud, Slave Laws, chapters ii., xvi., xxxvi. Christians 

Condition of the Slave in Civil Soci- not put to death were treated with 

ety, ch. III., with Fuss, Rom. Antiq., imprisonment, exile, or slavery in the 

sec. 54, 55, 56, and Grote, History mines. The mines of Numidia con- 

of Greece, vol. iii., pp. 94, 95. Also tained nine bishops in slavery, with 

Blair'8 Inquiry of Slavery among the many others. — Cyprian, cited in Gib- 

Itomaus, 32, 45. Also Gibbox, Hist., bon. Also Wallon, Hist. d'E sclavage. 


ful, more iniquitous, than was that chain which fastened Paul's 
wrist, even in his own hired house, to the arm of his Roman 

James ii., 1. " Have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Lord of glory, with respect of persons." The worst kind 
and degree of such respect is that against color, reducing the 
colored race to a despised, oppressed, enslaved class, and carried 
to such an extreme that the dreadful assertion is not only tol- 
erated but defended, that black men have no rights that white 
men are bound to respect.* A Christianity that can accept or 
endure this as justice will admit and defend any iniquity, any 
cruelty against the race so set apart for scorn and oppression, 
so condemned to a living death by a public moral assassina- 
tion.f It will force upon them a social system that crushes 
them into the condition of chattels, in the torture of life-long 
labor without wages, under a contempt not felt toward things, 
and that animals can not be made to feel. It will force upon 
them a church and a religion that by law keeps them in igno- 
rance, forbids their being taught to read, excludes them from 
the sacrament of marriage, makes the Sabbath a mockery, or 
a mere block and pulley for hauling taut and securing the fast- 
enings of the system. J This is that respect of persons, forbid- 
den of God, but carried in slavery to the extreme of turning 

* Sir James Stephens, Slavery in f Contrast this old "West India legis- 

the "West Indies, vol. i., p. 3G4. Un- lation, and similar law and usage in 

der the section of Maxims of Colonial America, with the law and custom 

Slave Law, the author presents some under Louis XI. of France. (See 

terrible proofs of the power and prop- Smyth's Lectures on Mod. Hist.,vol. i., 

agation of such caste and prejudice, p. 110.) " An age of superstition and 

He cites as the law of usage "that violence." ''In all cases where the 

no white person can by any means proofs for and against the serfage are 

whatever be reduced to slavery ; but equal, let the decision be in favor of 

that every man, woman and child, liberty." 

whose skin is black, or whose mother, % Humboldt, Kingdom of New 

grandmother, or great-grandmother Spain, vol. i., p. 174, etc., presents il- 

was of that complexion, shall be pre- lustrations of the power and misery of 

suraed to be a slave, unless the con- slave-caste perpetuated, but he s.iys 

trary is proved." that in Mexico the laws are always 


persons into things. In the church, by command of Christ, 
there was to be neither Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free ; 
but all one in him. But slavery denies or destroys even the 
fundamental law that God has made of one blood all nations 
and races, and substitutes in its stead a discord of partial 
cruelty worse than any depraved Manichean imagination ever 
attributed to the all-wise Creator and Goveraor.* 

James v., 4. " The hire of the laborers kept back by fraud." 
The whole of this passage is terrible. The fraud of taking 
men and using them as slaves, not only keeping back their 
wages, but giving them nothing, and making it a point of law 
that nothing is due to them, buying and selling, not only their 
labor, but themselves, their bodies and souls, as merchandise, 
is the highest possible example of this wickedness. In addi- 
tion to all other cruelties, the wages of which they have been 
defrauded, but which the eye of Supreme Justice has marked 

interpreted in favor of liberty, and the closes the inalienable and incurable 
government favored the increase of cruelty and selfishness of the system. 
freemen. This was written in 1809. " The first founders of slavery in the 
Humboldt gives a description of English as well as Dutch colonics held 
what he witnessed of the disregard of it to be incompatible with the condition 
color and of caste in the Academy of of a Christian man, and such as pa- 
Fine Arts in Mexico, where rank, gans and infidels could alone be law- 
color and race were compounded, the fully subjected to." While this prej. 
Indian, the Mestizo, and the Whites, udice existed, a man by becoming a 
the sons of the lowliest artisans and Christian might possibly escape from 
of the highest lords were seated to- the condition of a slave. They there* 
gether. (Vol. i., p. 241.) fore, in Jamaica, as early as 1G96, 
* Smyth, Lectures on Mod. Hist., passed a law to prevent such a re- 
vol. i., 170, refers to "the effect of suit. "Bo it enacted that no slave 
habit in banishing all the natural feel- shall be free by becoming a Chris- 
ings of mercy, justice, benevolence, as tian." In America there is an im. 
in the instances of slave-dealers, etc., provement on this. Be it enacted 
as perfectly frightful." Compare that slavery is the highest style of 
Wright, Slavery at the Cape of Good Christianity, " undoubtedly good, and 
Hope, p. 15, the effect of law and only good; the only good in the 
usage sanctioning concubinage and whole affair of negro existence iu 
adulter}'. Stephens, Slavery in W. America." — Southern Presb. Review, 
I., under the head of Unjust and Mer- May, 1857. 
ciless Laws, voL i., sec. 6, p. 208, dis- 


as owing to them by the law, Give unto your servants that 
which is just and equal, make up an account against their op- 
pressors for which God alone can bring them to a settlement. 
Let any man once compute, if possible, the amount of the 
wages of the four millions of slaves in this country, accumulat- 
ing for so many years, and kept back by fraud ; the amount 
due by the law of justice and equality, according to which God 
commands that all servants should be treated. It would 
amount, at the lowest rate, to more than the value of all the 
real estate of their masters at this hour. 

And yet, if they had been treated justly, if their wages had 
been paid them, as free laborers from the outset, the wealth 
of their masters, the value of the lands, the quantity and worth 
of their products, would have been incalculably accumulated. 
The North and the South would have been richer by thou- 
sands of millions ; for the payment of just wages, and the 
treatment of the laborer according to God's laws of freedom 
and benevolence, are the only conditions on which the earth 
will yield her increase with the security of the divine blessing. 
Without these conditions the curse of the Lord, as in this 
epistle, is on the held and the wealth of the wicked, and an 
eating rust as of fire is in the prosperity and at the vitals of 
the nation, whose laws and subjects make merchandise of men. 

1 Peter ii., 16. " As free, and not using your liberty for a 
cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God."' Com- 
pare 2 Peter ii., 19, " While they promise them liberty, they 
themselves are the servants of corruption ; for of whom a 
man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage." 

When the apostle says as free, he speaks in opposition to 
slavery, and in perfect correspondence with Paul, in 1 Cor. 
vii., 22, 23 (be ye not the servants of men), and Gal. v., 1, 13, 
" Ye have been called unto liberty." But it is absurd for any 
man who is a slave to sin, to sensual desire, and to angry pas- 
sion, to talk about liberty, for he knows nothing of it, and 
being conquered by his own corruptions, is by them sold as a 


slave to Satan, just as men taken captive in war were by the 
Pagan nations tasked and sold as slaves. But the servants 
of God are redeemed from all slavery, and are bound to hate 
every form of it. 

1 Peter ii., 18. "Servants (olicerat) be subject to your 
masters with all fear ; not only to the good and gentle, but 
also to the froward." There is here a similar distinction as 
in 1 Tim. vi., 1, 2, between servants under the yoke, and those 
that have believing masters. And much the same reason is 
given for such subjection as is presented in the first verse of 
the next chapter for the subjection of wives to their own 
husbands, although such husbands might be unbelieving ; the 
reason, namely, of the power of a sweet and loving obedience, 
to the honor of God and the gospel, attracting men to him 
and to it, winning them by such meek, submissive, holy con- 
versation, and bringing them to Christ by the power of such 
practical piety, when otherwise they might have continued 
ignorant of the word. 

Calvin thinks that by the use of the word olice-ai instead 
of dovXoi, in this passage, it is probable that free domestics 
are to be understood as well as slaves.* But if slaves at all, 
then would not the particular proper word have been used in 
place of the more general ?f Eusebius, Beza, Cave and others 
have supposed that Peter wrote his epistles to Jews ;J if so, 
there is good reason why he should not have written to slaves, 
since they had none. But Lardner and others believe him to 
have written " to all Christians in general ; Jews and Gentiles 
living in Pontus, Galatia, CapjDadocia, Asia and Bithynia, the 

* Calvin, Ep., 1 Pet.,ch. the same book, he uses dovloic in 

ii. " Quoniam non hie habetur doi<?.oi, speaking of the punishment of crime, 

sed oiKeTai, possumus intelligere li- J Cave, Lives of the Apostles, 211. 

bertos una cum servis." " He wrote to the Jewish converts, 

f Josephus, Contra Apion, B. 2, to direct them in the relations both 

sec. 19, uses for tho Jewish servants of the civil and the Christian life." 
the word oiketov. But in sec. 30, of 


greatest part of whom must have been converted by Pan]."* 
Bishop Sanderson argues that Peter was addressing the Jews,f 
and showing them "that being iadeed set at liberty by Christ, 
they are not therefore any more to enthral themselves to any 
living soul or other creature ; not to submit to any ordinance 
of man as slaves, that is, as if the ordinance itself did, by any 
proper, direct and immediate virtue, bind the conscience.! 
But yet, notwithstanding, they might and ought to submit 
thereunto, as the Lord's freemen, and in a free manner." 

Their native, inexpugnable hatred of slavery, the Jews had 
received from the Old Testament, as well as from the law 
written on the heart. § But the gospel taught Christian ser- 
vants, even when treated as slaves, to be submissive and 
gentle, even to the froward, and when under the yoke, for 
the sake of the Lord Jesus, and for the honor of his cause. 
Love to Christ could unite such submission (in all things in 
which it was not contrary to his will) with the most perfect 
spirit of true independence, and the most undiminished ab- 
horrence of oppression. 

* Lardner, vol. vi., p. 260. er more justly be made to give 

\ See also Bloojifield, N. T. way." 
" Chiefly Jews, but partly Gentiles." § Josephus, Wars of the Jews, B. 

\ See Calvin on Exodus i., 17. 7, eh. viii. "We have preferred 

"Sustained and supported by the death before slavery," SovXeiac. "We 

reverential fear of God, they boldly are bound to die," Eleazer argued; 

despised the commands and threat- "but not to be slaves; death is nec- 

ening of Pharaoh." Calvin remarks essary, but slavery unnatural and un- 

on the wickedness of those, " whom necessary." He was advising, in the 

the fear of men instead of God gov- defense of the fortress of Masada, 

erns, and who, under pretext of due that they should rather die than yield 

submission, obey the wicked will of to the Romans, by whom they would 

governors in opposition to justice and inevitably either be put to death or 

right, being in some cases the minis- sold as slaves. His speech is a faith- 

ters of avarice and rapacity, in others ful demonstration of the love of lib- 

of cruelty ; pleading the frivolous ex- erty instilled into the heart by the 

cuse that they obey their princes ac- "lively oracles," and which in the 

cording to the word of God ; as if Christian would be combined with 

every earthly power which exalts it- supreme submission to the will of 

self against heaven ought not rath God. 


Evidence from the Apocalypse. — The Merchandise of Slaves and Souls of meh 
in great Babylon. — The Domestic Traffic Worse than the Foreign. 

Revelations xiii., 10. " He that leadeth into captivity 
shall go into captivity." There is a striking reference in this 
to Is. xxxiii., 1 : " Wo to thee that spoilest, and thou wast not 
spoiled, and dealest treacherously, and they dealt not treach- 
erously with thee ! When thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt 
be spoiled ; and when thou shalt make an end to deal treach- 
erously, they shall deal treacherously with thee." The carry- 
ing of men into captivity, the forcing of them into bondage, 
the making slaves of them, and compelling them to serve as 
slaves, as was done generally with captives in war,* is one of 
the gigantic forms of oppression and cruelty on earth most 
plainly condemned of God. The horrors and woes consequent 
upon it have been interminable.! But if the making of slaves 

* Josephus, BelL Jud., B. vi., ch. 
8. He speaks of the multitude of 
captives being so vast that the price 
for them was very low, while the pur- 
chasers were few. A very literal ful- 
fillment of the prediction in Deut. 
xxviii., G8 : " Ye shall be sold unto 
your enemies for bondmen and bond- 
worn pn, and no man shall buy you." 
Josephus calculates the number car- 
ried away captive on the taking of 
Jerusalem at 97,000, (ch. ix., sec. 3,) 
and this, it has been supposed, is a 
moderate computation. 

f See Wallon, Blair, Stephens, 
Brougham, Gibbon, Grote, Xiebuhr, 

Fuss, Potter, Burigny, Becker, 
and others. The almost inconceivable 
miseries and crimes resulting from the 
recognition of slavery as a legitimate 
status in Greece and Rome, and from 
the sale and distribution of captives in 
innumerable wars, and from the con- 
version of freemen into serfs and chat- 
tels, and of free parents into the foun- 
tain heads of perpetual streams of slav- 
ery, are but partially disclosed by 
Grote (Hist. Greece, vol. hi., ch. ii.) 
Wallon, (Histoire d'Esclavage, vol. 
ii., the chapters on Sources of Slavery, 
and State of the Slave under Law,) 
Stephens, (Penal Slavery and Max- 


under pretence of conquest over enemies is sinful in God's 
sight, how much more the taking and holding of slaves by 
individuals for gain, under pretence of having purchased them 
with money! The making merchandise of men was a crime 
in God's sight worthy of death ; and no man can be a slave- 
holder without being guilty of this crime. The slaveholder 
kidnaps and carries away captive a human being every day 
and hour in which he holds a human being against his own 
will as a slave, as property. The Greek word in 1 Tim. i., 10, 
translated men-stealers, is rendered in Grotius and others 
by the Latin word plagiariis. And the Latin word plagia- 
ries is rendered by Facciolatus as one who not only steals, 
but retains a freeman in slavery, against his consent, invitum 
in servitute retinet. Any man who claims another man as his 
property is therefore such a man-stealer, avSpaTrodiorrfi. He 
falsely assumes to be the owner of the personality of which 
the man himself, under God, is the sole owner. Hence the 
word plagiarist in our language, one who falsely proclaims 
himself the author of another man's books. Slaveholding is 
the plagiarism of immortal beings from God ; and the steal- 
ing of the children from their parents, and making merchan- 
dise of them, is at once the meanest, most cruel, and yet the 
most unnoticed, unrebuked form of this inquity.* The oppro- 
brium connected with the word man-stealer ought to rest also 

ims of Colonial Slave Law), and other would appoint a day for the public 
writers. Incidentally, sometimes, a sale of the captives; then came the 
terrible revelation is made. Every strife for the best and cheapest bar- 
extreme of severity made possible by gains in wholesale purchases, and then 
slave law finds its realization in fact, the slaves were herded in gangs to 
and makes a fixture of existence in their various destinations, or city 
character. Quot servi tot hostes was a slave-markets. 

proverb, or quot hostes tot servi, as * Columella proposed rewards, 

many enemies, so many slaves, capable bounties, for the breeding of slaves •, 

of another and terrible meaning, after- and the number of vernae, home-born, 

ward realized. But this was the war was sometimes almost incredible. See 

maxim. Slave merchants followed Blair's Inquiry, and Wallon, His- 

the great armies like vultures. After toire, vol. ii., ch. ii. Also Becker's 

a battle and victory the general Gallus, 213. 


on the word slaveholder. A man-stealer is any one who 
makes merchandise of human beings. A slaveholder is such 
a merchant, such a slave-trader. He bought his human beings 
as chattels ; he will sell them as chattels. But worse yet, a 
slaveholder is one who propagates and perpetuates the crime, 
and whereas perhaps he bought the parents, whereas he went 
through the formula of purchasing them, and therefore holds 
them as property ; he scouts eveu this formula in regard to 
their posterity, but seizes, claims, and holds the babes, new- 
born, the children, and makes merchandise of them, without 
even the pretence of paying a farthing for them.* 

Rev. xviii., 13. This was one of the great crimes found in 
great Babylon, when the time of her destruction and punish- 
ment was come. "The merchandise of slaves and souls of 
men," oufidruv uai ipvx&g dv&p&Trov. " The merchants of 
these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar 
off, for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing." The 
reference here is to Ezekiel xxvii., 13, the merchandise of 
Tyre, and the merchants of Javan,f Tubal and Meschec, who 
traded the persons of men (souls of men) and vessels of brass 
in the market. In this slave traded souls are tossed about as 

* Plutarch, Life of Cato, relates % Stephanus, Thesaurus. AvSpa- 
that he was ia the business of buying TroHia-nc is rendered by Stephanus by 
up slaves on speculation, especially the Latin mancipator, whoever re- 
youths, from the slave merchants who duces any man to slavery. He adds 
bought them at the army auctions ; illustrations of its significance as 
he did this in order to increase their those ivho supply slaves to the mer- 
value by training them, and then to chants, that is, literally, slave-dealers. 
sell them at an advanced rate. Our Thessaly, he states, was full of such 
slave-breeding States improve on all men in that business, 
these methods, and concentrate them Bretschxeider, on the origin cf 
into a home manufacture. the word audpaxodioru, witlj its deri- 

f Wallon, Histoire d'Esclavage vation, interprets it thus: hominem 

dans l'Antiquite, vol. ii., part ii., capio, et servum vendo, literally, / take 

Sources of Slavery. Ionia is referred a man and sell a slave, and he refers 

to in the text, and the slaves brought directly to Ex. xxi., 16, and Deut. 

thence were highly valued for their xxiv., 7. lie that stealeth, holdeth, 

beauty. But Delos became one of or maketh merchandise of a man, shall 

the greatest slave marts of antiquity, bo put to death. Sciileusner also 


things, and the merchandise of slaves is the merchandise of 
souls, n-Ncss, souls of men. 

There is no distinction as to guilt, drawn in the Scriptures, 
between a foreign and domestic slave-trade. On some ac- 
counts the guilt of the foreign seems the blackest, and our laws 
have condemned it as piracy. Our laws at one and the same 
time brand the bringing of men into slavery as piracy, and 
the rescuing of them from slavery at home as piracy and trea- 
son. John Brown, as captain of a slaver, bringing a cargo of 
slaves to Cuba or Louisiana, would have received a reward. 
John Brown attempting to deliver a dozen slaves from slav- 
ery, is hanged.* Abroad the slave-trade is denounced as a 
traffic of demons ; at home it is extolled as a business that 
becometh saints. Abroad it is the instigation of the devil ; at 
home it is the climax of social civilization and Christianity, 
and tr# missionary providence of God. 

But it is must be admitted that if either form of this great 
wickedness is crime, the domestic is the worst, because, 1. It 
is a breeding, propagating form, with frighful rapidity in the 
increase. 2. It is committed and continued under the light of 
the gospel, and with pretence of a sanction therein. 3. It is 
established by law, which is always an immeasurable exaspera- 

refers the word, for illustration, to The jury stood eight for acquittal and 
those very passages in the Old Testa- four for conviction, aud doubtless the 
ment in the laws of Moses, where man-stealer goes scot free. But in 
God sentenced the man-stealer, and proximity with this comes the follow- 
the man who made merchandise of ing record of the penalty of death 
man, to death. against a poor unfortunate creature, 
* There is no instance of any pun- not for any crime before God or man, 
ishment ever being inflicted on any but simply for aiding a human being 
man for making slaves, or bringing to escape from bondage : " Charles- 
them from Africa to this country, ton, South Carolina, January 29. 
Near the time when John Brown was Francis Mitchell, porter of the steam- 
hanged in Virginia for attempting to res- ship Marion, was yesterday sentenced 
cue slaves from slavery, a man named to be hung on the 2d March for as- 
Brown was being tried, on a second sisting a slave in his attempt to leave 
indictment, in Savannah, for the crime the State !" No language can de- 
of bringing Africans into the United scribe the wickedness and injustice of 
States and holding them as slaves, such elective and oppressive cruelty. 


tion of any sin. 4. Being so sanctioned, and transmitted le- 
gally to posterity, each successive generation of slave traders, 
as the masters and owners of property belonging to them by 
inheritance, claim an increasing right in such property, and 
have less and less conscience of the sin, and lay their grasp 
with less and less compunction upon the next crop or genera- 
tion of human beings as their possession, and as having been 
justly foreordained by them for bondage, and under a benev- 
olent providence, born to be the victims of the system of 
slavery and of the domestic slave-traffic. 

This, with its connections, is the vastest form of merchan- 
dise and mercantile speculation, except perhaps the traffic in 
hay and cattle, carried on in the United States. All parts of 
the nation, north and south, east and west, are fearfully in- 
volved in it.* The merchants stand afar off in fear and tor- 
ment, in terror of the breaking up of this great Baby^gn. It 
is contended by a vast party that the union of the States de- 
pends upon the integrity and unassailable security of this 
traffic. The complicity in it is as a vein of gangrene running 
from head to foot in the body, which can be traced by the in- 
flammation and discoloration, and is frightfully diffusive and 

The palsying and perverting power of this sin upon the con- 
science is appalling. Holding the truth in unrighteousness, it 
becomes a lie, and men who thus hold it are given over to 
strong delusion to believe a he. We have read of a stream 

* Extensive mortgages are held on be the consequences. " Why do you 

slave property, perhaps at the ex- not emancipate your own ?" was the 

treme north. Hence a part of our very natural question of his friend, 

sensitiveness. A slave master and " If such are your convictions, why 

planter in Louisiana, the ostensible not begin at home?" "Why sir," 

owner of a large number of slaves, was the answer, "they are every one 

declared to a mercantile friend his of them 'mortgaged to merchants in 

convictions of the wickedness, wretch- New York, and if I should set them 

edness, and ruin of the system of free, they would foreclose, and grasp 

slavery, and avowed that if he could them instantly, and they would all bo 

do it, he would set free every slave in sold under the hammer 1" 
the United States, whatever might 


that encrusts every thing that falls in it, or grows by it, with 
flint, and just so the instincts of humanity itself, as well as the 
precepts of religion, are turned into stone by the flowing of 
this infernal fountain over them. The Christian conscience, 
steeped in the habits and sophistries of slave-life, comes out a 
fossil, on Avhich the slaveholder grinds his sharpest arguments. 
The sanctioning and shielding of such abominations can not 
possibly be less offensive to God than the suffering that wo- 
man Jezebel to teach in the early churches, and to throw the 
seduction of her sophistry over the immoralities of paganism. 
The ministers of the gospel who listen to these doctrines, and 
consent to silence the gospel in regard to them, are infected 
by them. The very essence of morality is changed, and the 
mind and conscience are defiled. A man lays himself down 
to bathe in this stream, and his moral sense turns into adi- 
pocire. The finger of slavery presses upon his intelligence and 
emotion, and there is no rebound ; the mark stays, as upon an 
image of hog's lard ; there is a deep indentation. The man 
of adipocire goes into the pulpit ; his very sermons are a dead 
tissue ; his conscience, his sentiments, are as lifeless as pale 
wax, as smooth, as cold, as susceptible of being moulded to 
order for the forms of political expediency. 

Rev. xix., 18. Describing the supper of the great God, the 
fowls are summoned to eat the flesh of all " free and bond, 
small and great." Compare chapter vi., 15, " every bond- 
man and every freeman." A southern writer, the author of 
what is called a Scriptural view of the moral relations of Afri- 
can slavery, adduces these passages in proof " that there will 
be bondmen on the earth when the last trumpet sounds. 
This fact being admitted, the writer says that " the hope of 
liberating all the slaves upon the whole earth must be vision- 
ary indeed." The conclusion is this, that African slavery is a 
divine institution, and that any scheme of abolition is a wild, 
fanatical interference with that which is destined of God to 
stand still till the last day. 


By this kind of argument the mention of murderers in Rev. 
xxi., 8, and whoremongers and idolaters, and liars, proves 
that there will be murderers and liars at the end of the world, 
and therefore murdering and lying are divine institutions, and 
any interference with them in the hope of delivering the earth 
from such wickedness is visionary and foolish. A perfect de- 
lirium seems to have seized upon the understandings of those 
who have consecrated themselves to the defense of this gigan- 
tic cruelty and sin ; but it is a Delirium Tremens. Perhaps 
they are in the position of those described by Paul in his sec- 
ond epistle to the Thessalonians, as wrought upon of Satan 
with all deceivableness and unrighteousness, because they re- 
ceived not the love of the truth that they might be saved ; 
and for the same cause given over of God to strong delusion 
to believe a lie, because they believed not the truth, but had 
pleasure in unrighteousness. They are an example, such as 
we could hardly have deemed possible under the light of the 
gospel, of men so lost to all sense of guilt and shame in the 
practice and defense of the greatest of national and individual 
cruelties, that like the old Jews at the climax of their debase- 
ment and crisis of their overthrow, under God's retributive 
judgments in the age of Jeremiah, they can deliberately and 
defiantly plead that " they are delivered to do all these abomi- 

* YViiewell on the Elements of losopher and the Christian moralist 
Morality, sec. 108, 109, 522, 524. viewing this gigantic iniquity from a 
" Slavery is contrary to the funda- point outside its personal sweep, uni- 
mental principles of morality." Again, ting in its abhorrence and condemna- 
" Slavery is utterly abhorrent to the tion. " A chained slave for a porter,'' 
essence of morality, and can not be says Hume, "was usual at Rome. 
looked upon as a tolerable condition Had not these people shaken off all 
of society, nor acquiesced in as what sense of compassion towards that un- 
may allowably be. "Wherever slavery happy part of their species, would 
exists its abolition must be one of they have presented their friends, at 
the greatest objects of every good their first entrance, with such an hu- 
man, 522, 529. Compare Hume, age of severity of the masters and 
Populousness of Ancient Nations. It misery of the slaves ?" But this 
is interesting to note the infidel phi- searedness and stupidity of the moral 


Burke somewhere speaks with contempt of the " exploded 
fanatics of slavery," who believed in its indefeasible right. 
The career of slavery in this country, and the insolent shame- 
lessness with which its doctrines of devils are intruded on 
mankind, to the corruption of all religion and confusion of all 
morals, would have been a fit subject for Burke's powerful 
denunciations. There would be no danger of exaggeration 
in the description of this system, and of its effect upon so- 
ciety, and of the reign of terror under which it must inevita- 
bly bring the whole community, for the support of those in 
power, who are the personal managers and leaders of so inso- 
lent and savage a despotism, the known policy of which is 
" to destroy the tribunal of conscience, and bring to their 
lanteme every citizen whom they suspect to be discontented 
by their tyranny."* 

When the possession of power obtained by such means, 
and resting on such personal robbery and destruction of hu- 
man rights, is made the interest of a great party, and the ex- 
pediency and even sanctity of the system of cruelty and 
wrong are maintained for the sake of political supremacy, for 
the sake of wielding the patronage and dividing the emolu- 
ments of the government of a great nation, the corruption of 
such a party must be deep, rapid and frightful, to a degree 
never yet demonstrated in history. The depravity of men, 
fhe violence of their passions, and the moral atrocity of their 
principles, will be developed, along with the haughtiness and 
holiness of their professions, as in a hot-house ; for religion 
itself, in the most insolent hypocrisy, goes side by side with 
this system of the moral assassination of millions, and is even 
its pretended foundation to the glory of God. The party so 
supported must, in the very nature of things, and by a moral 

sense were pardonable in comparison of this system by the Christian relig- 

with the defiance of God and of com- ion. 

mon humanity, involved in the * Burke's works, vol. 3. Letter to 

attempted justification and sanction a Member of the National Assembly. 


necessity arising out of its position, and its means of perma- 
nence in power, be a party radically regardless of justice, and 
ready, in any emergency, to set precedents of cruelty and 
oppression in the place of law, 'and to contrive a machinery 
of government, with inquisitorial committees of Congress, 
armed with powers, and clamps of federal legislation, breaking 
down, one after another, every State right, every personal 
protection, all remnant of State sovereignty, by the sheer des- 
potism of party organization ; each individual being animated 
with the spirit of a slaveholder towards all who oppose the 
sin which is the life and soul of such a usurpation. Let this 
insolent domination be extended to the pulpit and the free- 
dom of the word of God, and all that has ever been recorded 
of Star Chamber tyranny in Great Britain would be trifling 
in comparison with the consequences of the erection of that 
lynch law, that now triumphs in the slave States, into a sys- 
tematic politico-ecclesiastical tribunal at the North, under the 
plea of peace, piety, and the salvation of the Union. To this 
extreme things are rapidly tending, and men, whose daily 
boast is of liberty, are forging their own fetters, and burning 
incense to this Moloch. They know not what they are pre- 
paring for themselves and for their children.* 

" The Romans," said Fisher Ames, on a memorable occa- 
sion, endeavoring to warn his countrymen, " were not only 
amused, but really made vain, by the boast of their liberty, 
while they sweated and trembled under the despotism of em- 
perors, the most odious monsters that ever infested the earth. 
It is remarkable that Cicero, with all his dignity and good 
sense, found it a popular seasoning of his harangue, six years 

* Burke on the Democratic Tyr- often must ; and that oppression of 

anny. Works, vol. iii., p. 146. "In the minority will extend to far greater 

a democracy the majority of the cit- numbers, and will be carried on with 

izens is capable of exercising the much greater fury, than con almost 

most cruel oppressions upon the mi- ever be apprehended from the do- 

nority, whenever strong divisions pre- minion of a single scepter." 
vail in that kind of policy, as they 


after Julius Caesar had established the monarchy, and only- 
six months before Octavius totally subverted the common- 
wealth, to say that it was not possible for the people of Rome 
to be slaves, whom the gods- had destined to the command of 
all nations. Other nations may endure slavery, but the proper 
end and business of the Roman people is liberty."* Such is 
the rhetoric, such the music and the melody, such the flattery 
and fawning, with which to-day the people of the United 
States are offering their wrists for manacles to the despotism 
of a more odious and dreadful oligarchy than ever ruled in 
Greece or Rome ; the despotism of three hundred thousand 
slaveholders, who hold twenty million whites in bondage, 
through the enslavement of four million blacks. 

* Ames' Works, Dangers of American Liberty. 


Appeal of the Moral Argument. — Begun in the Old Testament. — Completed in 
the New. — Dreadful Consequences of its Denial. — Atrocities of Slavery and 
Slave Law Under the Light of the Gospel. 

The moral argument from Scripture on this subject appeals 
to the common conscience of all mankind, and at every step 
enlists the common sense of humanity in its behalf. The de- 
fense of slavery has to be undertaken and pursued against 
conscience, against benevolence, against law, natural and di- 
vine, against history, against both the letter and spirit of the 
Scriptures, against the Old and New Testament theology, 
against the gospel, against God. The consentaneousness of 
both parts of divine revelation on this subject, in condemna- 
tion of this crime, is perfect ; and it is an incidental proof of di- 
vine revelation, when an article of morality, conveyed at first 
through the medium of the social life of a particular nation, 
divinely arranged for that purpose, passes, on the dropping 
away of the letter of that law, into a higher universal life and 
energy for all mankind, for all nations, as the ripe fruit hangs 
upon the tree after the blossoms have vanished, after the 
leaves have disappeared, What the law severely and inex- 
orably forbade in the Old Testament, the Christian life of the 
New renders impossible to a pure Christianity and to all good 
men. What the law enjoined of love to the stranger, the 
gospel takes up as