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ON THE RECORD NEWSPAPER AND SLAVERY. WE stated in our Number for October, in reply to some of our correspondents who wished us to animadvert upon the conduct of the Record Newspaper in making God the author of sin, by charging upon him the revolting guilt and atrocity of slavery, that we deemed a reply superfluous: and so we still deem it; for if any man can entertain such ideas of that infinitely wise, holy, and benevolent Being, whose very name is Love, that he can reconcile them with the approval of an institution of the most flagrant injustice and cruelty-an institution in which a man, against whom no crime is even alleged, is claimed by another as "his chattel, his mule, his ass, his beast of burden;"-if any man, we say, can entertain such ideas of God, he is speaking of a being not such as the Bible describes the one living and true God to be, but a being of a very different character; a very Moloch, and not Jehovah. In the so-often quoted destruction of the Canaanites-nay, in the awful infliction of the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched-we have His own express declarations and denunciations, and we defy any man to prove that they are inconsistent with either justice or mercy. But to make Him the author of the institution of slavery-slavery, not as a judicial infliction for crime, or even as a mitigation of the horrors of "war without quarter," but the brutal act of the strong oppressing the weak for his own selfish ends, and without any offence upon the part of his victim-slavery, the result of the most nefarious of all piracies-slavery, the only bond and charter of which is, that one man seized another, and, having brought him to Jamaica or Algiers, sold him to his past or present owner, who, good innocent Turk or Christian, having nothing to do with the blood and tears and agonies and massacre that accompanied the capture, now lawfully holds him, or his children's children lawfully hold him, and his posterity for ever, according to God's ordinance, in captivity;-to make God the author of this execrable injustice and oppression, is, we repeat, to make a Moloch of the Holy One of Israel.
Thus honestly believing, even if erringly, on what common ground can we argue with those who impute this direful iniquity to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? With our present perceptions of the matter, it appears to us as superfluous to prove that slavery is nota Divine dispensation, as that murder or adultery is not. It is said of some other crimes that for a season "6 God winked" at them; but to make Him their author, would be blasphemy. If we lived in Algiers, it might be requisite to oppose by due syllogistic reasoning what we have denominated the Algerine dogma, of one man having a moral right to property in his fellow-creature for no reason but that the former is armed with money or power, and the latter, though unoffending, is unable to throw off the oppressive yoke; but in Christian England an argument on such a subject ought at least to be, if it be not, superfluous. We have always felt ourselves degraded in being expected to reason upon the question; for though in times that are past it has been necessary for us, and for others, again and again to do so, in consequence, not of the scruples of good men, but of the hypocrisy of some interested champions of slavery, themselves known sceptics and scoffers at Revelation, who sought to overcome the opposition of the weak and unskilful among the friends of religion, and to cause a sneer at "the saints," by this argumentum ad hominem, which themselves laughed at as a mere trick of war;-though under these circumstances it might be necessary to perform this otherwise superfluous task; yet now, that it has been performed; now, that the hypocritical arguments of those who tra
duced the word of God for their own selfish purposes have been often and irrefragably refuted; now, that the nation has risen as one man to put down slavery, and the legislature has decided that it shall be no more; now, that every wise, pious, and philanthropic man is rejoicing in this long-wished for consummation, and is anxious to forget and forgive the strifes of the contest in the united endeavour to make the victory truly profitable, by devising and executing plans of Christian mercy for the benefit of the oppressed victims of slavery, giving to them scriptural education, sending to them Christian missionaries, and in every way striving to render them "Christ's freemen ;"-why, under these circumstances, are we to begin the bootless contest anew, just because, now that the practical matter is as we trust for ever settled, a new class of reasoners has arisen to fall back upon the abstract question? A few years since there was not probably one sincere friend of the Bible in the whole world who would have attempted to prove that it was the advocate of slavery, of press-gangs, and of the total abnegation of all civil and social rights: it was only the avowed enemies of the Gospel who urged such charges upon it, with a view to invalidate the evidences for its inspiration. But can it be necessary thrice to slay the slain, just because, among the multiform passing delusions of the day, which to-morrow will be forgotten, a few individuals of another class have taken up the waste and blunted weapons of the Philistines, and think that they are fighting the battles of the Lord of hosts, while clothed in the armour, and, however unconsciously, doing the work, of his enemies?
The only reply which we should think necessary to the argument derived from the alleged sanction given by Jehovah to the state of slavery is, that the state thus alleged to have been "sanctioned," even if, for the sake of reasoning upon the case, we admit the alleged sanction, has nothing whatever to do with the actual question of modern slavery, whether in Algiers or Jamaica. We ourselves fully believe that God sanctions what may be called slavery, either for a term of years or for life, as one among other legal punishments for atrocious crimes-as in the case of our own Old-Bailey slaves on board the Hulks or in New South Wales-though even in this case it would be blasphemy to suppose that He would " sanction" the same punishment if inflicted upon the culprit's unoffending, nay, unborn, children and children's children; but to argue from what is said in regard to cases like this, to the abstract question of slavery, is abundantly absurd, to say the least, and we wish we could divest our minds of the idea of its being blasphemous also.
Such were our sentiments and feelings while penning the remarks above alluded to, and which some of our correspondents have reminded us of, by saying, that, however lightly we might think of the alleged Scriptural arguments in favour of slavery, others might esteem them of more importance, and would perhaps attach greater weight to them when set forth in the columns of "a religious newspaper," than when used only, as formerly, by selfish and ungodly men, the avowed advocates of West-India slavery. We have no wish to be obstinate on the subject; and though at this time of day we think the question settled, and the discussion superseded, we so far bow to the wishes of others as to insert several papers which have been sent to us; only reminding those of our readers who are already wearied with the question, that it is merely as a matter of duty that we thus far re-open it: and having inserted the following papers, which have reached us from three several correspondents, and in the sentiments or manufacture of which we have had no hand, we hope to be excused from prolonging the controversy.
As regards the particular publication to which we have adverted, we have no wish to treat it unjustly, or even to stickle for every hard word
we may occasionally have let fall concerning it. We hailed the establishment of a newspaper to be conducted upon Christian principles, and again and again recommended it to the support of our readers. When, in a spirit of party virulence seldom equalled in modern controversies either theological or otherwise, it set itself to break up the Bible Society, and to establish what was called the Trinitarian Bible Society, it became our duty to endeavour to ward off this mischief; and much as the friends and conductors of the Record newspaper vituperated us on the occasion, they themselves, when they split with the Trinitarian Society, far more than justified our remarks: so that if any reader thought it worth while to look back at what we said before the rupture, and what the Record said after it, he would wonder how it was that our comparatively mild remonstrances and feeble facts should have given such vehement offence.
This matter over, we alluded no more to this publication till we were constrained to do so in assigning a reason to our own correspondents for not complying with their request to enter into an argument with it upon the abstract question of slavery. We now again drop the subject; only adding, with the utmost good will, our sincere grief that a publication which might have been a great blessing to the nation-a publication which espouses the principles of the Gospel, and is zealous for the cause of national piety and Christian morals, and has unremittingly advocated the religious observance of the Lord's-day, and many other important questionsshould have impeded its usefulness, and done harm instead of good, by its grievous indiscretions, its violent party spirit, its utter lack of good temper, its gross injustice, its opposition to the purest and most scriptural dictates of Christian philanthropy, and its advocacy of whatever is arbitrary and bigoted; by its spirit of scandal and quarrelsomeness; retailing and magnifying every vexatious anecdote; venting surmises, however groundless; interfering with the privacies of social life; and, after the manner of the John Bull newspaper, dragging, or, as it is called, "shewing up" individuals before the public, and often most wantonly and unfairly, instead of confining itself to those matters and principles which alone ought to be the materials for discussion in the columns of a publication professing to be Christian; and not least, by having raised and fomented a spirit of jealousy and discord among many of the true servants of Christ, which has given new acrimony to religious controversy, and threatens to do the work of the accuser of the brethren more effectually than he could do it for himself. We write thus with pain, and shall rejoice to write far otherwise, if those to whom our remarks may apply will secretly weigh and pray over them, and amend the errors to which we have adverted. We gladly quit the subject; for it is difficult even to state the truth in love, as unaffectedly we wish to do, without seeming to fall into the very spirit which we reprehend in others. We should not have said even thus much, but in reply to the remarks of some of our correspondents.
EVERY MAN HIS OWN PROPERTY.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
I Do not know how far it may consist with your feelings and arrangements to revive at this moment the question affecting Slavery in the abstract; though I am too conscious myself that the abolitionists will have to fight this battle also over again, because of the hostility recently exhibited, in certain quarters of the so-called religious world, to the inherent equal rights of all mankind to the blessings of the Gospel. If you think well to admit the enclosed paper within your pages, there are yet great numbers who
will acknowledge your kindness with Christian gratitude; while they will scarcely fail to observe, that what is now offered to public attention is only the detached fragment of a great and extensive subject. I ought perhaps to add, that the hints which I propose to offer are addressed in a particular manner to the supporters and the opponents of the Record Newspaper.
It is argued, that some portion of mankind may claim an absolute property, a fee-simple, in the persons of others. Blackstone*, Johnsont, and Paley, have decided in the negative. The word of God alone could create the property in question. Now, where is it written? Is it declared in the punishment of Ham? That punishment was, that one of his sons (Canaan), and that son's posterity, as following the example of their father's genera depravity, when the measure of their iniquity was full, should bring on themselves destruction—namely, the extirpation of seven nations of their race, and the forfeiture of their land and property. The following passages include a summary of what is revealed of its fulfilment. Gen. ix. 25-27: "And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.' Gen. x. 6: "And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan." Here four sons of Ham are named. It appears, then, that the curse of extermination fell on one branch only of Ham's family, and of seven nations of Canaan's posterity. Some few others of the Canaanites, in common with some of the surrounding nations such as the Edomites and Ammonites, which were the descendants of Abraham though still the enemies of the Israelites— were to be captured in war, in case they refused submission to those Israelites; that is, made captive as bondmen. The prophecy, however, did not authorize any one to inflict the punishment at his pleasure: he might not take the prediction into his own hands, by compelling the servitude.
But it is also asserted that Abraham was a slave-holder. The first allusion to servants is Gen. xii. 16: "And he," Pharoah, " entreated Abram well for her sake: and he," Abram, "had sheep, and oxen, and he-asses, and men-servants, and maid-servants"-all which were gifts from Pharoah. In Gen. xx. 14, " Abimelech," who was a Canaanitish king, "took sheep, and oxen, and men-servants, and women-servants, and gave them unto Abraham." Gen. xiv. 14, “Abram..........armed his trained servants, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen." In Gen. xv. 2, 5, Abram says, "Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus ?....one born in my house is my heir." Now in Gen. xvii. 12, 13, it is said, "He that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed; he that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised "—that is, fully admitted to the privileges of the covenant. Gen. xxiv. 2, Abraham's eldest servant.... ruled over all that he had." In the same chapter occurs the account of which Bishop Horsley thus writes: When Abraham's confidential slave was sent to choose a wife for his master's eldest son, he found the lady, designed by Providence to be
• Commentaries, b. i. ch. 1. " On the absolute Rights of Individuals ;" and ch. 14, "On Master and Servant."
"Argument in Favour of a Negro claiming his Liberty," 1777. Dr. Johnson closes his remarks thus :-" The sum of the argument is this: No man is by nature the property of another. The defendant is therefore by nature free. The rights of nature must be some way forfeited, before they can be justly taken away. That the defendant has by any act forfeited the rights of nature, we require to be proved; and if no proof of such forfeiture can be given, we doubt not but the justice of the court will declare him free."
+ Moral Philosophy, b. ii. ch. 10.
joined in marriage to so great a man as Isaac, in the laborious office of drawing water for her father's cattle; and the slave of Abraham, that came upon this happy errand, was received by the parents of the bride with all the respect and hospitality with which they could have received his master. These examples shew that the patriarch's servants were in his very highest confidence, entrusted with arms, elevated to the greatest offices, and even treated like children. One of them, Hagar, an Egyptian bondwoman, given by Pharoah, became his wife; and her child, Ishmael, was a mighty prince, and the father of twelve princes; and an especial blessing was conferred on him and on his posterity. The case of Hagar, indeed, was a peculiar dispensation, and had an allegorical and spiritual signification; and was, in fact, ordained by God himself (Gen. xxx. 9-13, &c.): “ Leah ....took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife....and Zilpah bare Jacob a son.... and a second son....and Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed."
Again, as a proof that such a prediction as that about Canaan did not include a permission to compel another's servitude without a crime, a similar prophecy is recorded in Gen. xxvii. 37, where Isaac said to Esau, "I have made" Jacob "thy lord; and all his brethren have I given to him for servants." But he says (ver. 40) also, and which was foretold more than seven hundred years before its accomplishment, When thou shalt have the dominion, thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck." But what was this yoke? There is no intimation that Jacob exacted personal service of his brother or his posterity. In the journey of the Israelites, Esau's descendant, the king of Edom, refused their request of a passage through his country; but they were not allowed to resent this, and to fight against the Edomites, as they might against the Canaanites in the immediate neighbourhood. Num. xx. 21: Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border: wherefore Israel turned away from him." 2 Chron. ii. 17, 18, Solomon had one hundred and fifty thousand servants (strangers in Israel) in the building of the Temple, who bare burdens and executed other servile work, superintended by twelve thousand officers; and then they became servants of servants. (See 1 Kings v. 13-16 and ix. 20-22.) In the history of Joseph there is a similar prophecy, but no hint of perpetual bondage.
But, to return to the history of Abraham: where is to be found, in all the - passages of that patriarch's life, even presumptive evidence that he ac.quired or assumed an absolute property in the persons, or over the liberty and possessions of his servants? Can any inference be thence drawn, except that then, as in all times and all countries, from the necessary inequality of conditions, a large portion of mankind were obliged as they are now-to give their personal services to the powerful and wealthy, as an equivalent, agreed upon by both parties, for protection and provision for themselves and families? Laban offered Jacob wages, according to the custom of the country, and indeed made a contract. Nay, Pharaoh's daughter did the same to the nurse of Moses, selected from the enslaved and oppressed Israellites. This may remind us of what the prophet said (Jer. xxii. 13), "Woe unto him.... that useth his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work." It is not probable that the children of Canaan were in any way subject to their neighbours; though they had warred, and captured Lot and his family and property, which Abram re-captured, and returned to dwell among them in peace; while, at the same time, their wickedness was so ripe, that, for example, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Abimelech and Melchizedec were righteous kings; the latter, priest of the Most High God. Abraham also bought of the Canaanites a sepulchre, and wells and lands, whence they afterwards expelled him.