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This was the rule of even the best masters. We have it on the authority of Plutarch, that the elder Cato, the great economist of Rome, who sought to restrain the luxury of the nation, and to inspire its patriotism, this type of Roman virtue, taught, that as soon as slaves grew too old to do their tale of work, they should be sold off or otherwise disposed of, so as not to be a burden to the master. Having taken the work out of his servants as out of brute beasts, he turned them off in their old age.* Such was the cruel system of slavery, and such its inhuman practices, as established by usage and Sustained by law throughout the Roman empire, when Christ appeared. Do you believe that his teachings, or those of his apostles, sanctioned this system of human chattelism 2 Where do you find that sanction ? _ Is it in Christ's announcement of his mission—“I am — come to preach the Gospel to the poor ; to preach – deliverance to the captives; to set at liberty them — that are bruised ; to preach the acceptable year [the - Jubilee] of the Lord * Do you find the sanction of slavery in Christ's exposition of the law—“Thou shalt - love thy neighbor as thyself?” Do you find it in his own heavenly rule of life—“Whatsoever ye would - that men should to you, do ye even so to them 7” “I defy the most unfeeling planter to go, immediately after hearing these words, to the slave-market to buy slaves; and I defy the most resolute critic to maintain, after having read them, that the gospel does not condemn slavery.”* Do you then find the sanction of slavery in Paul's instructions to masters and servants, given in view of slavery as an existing state of society 2 Do you find anything that can be tortured into an approval of this system in the command—“Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal ; knowing that ye also have a master in heaven ; neither is there respect of persons with him.” + Do you find your gospel warrant for slavery in the warning of James to the rich and proud oppressors of that age—“Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth ; and the cries of them which have reaped, are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth of Aristotle, in his ethics, had attempted to establish slavery upon a philosophical principle, as an institution founded by nature in the distinctions of races and in the conditions necessary to human society. Against the opinion that the division of mankind into freemen and slaves is created by the law of force, and is therefore unjust, he argues, that some men are born as far inferior to others as the brute nature is below the human, and that such persons were designed by nature to be “the animated instruments” of the household and of society in procuring the necessaries and performing the labors of life. And since these instruments are not only necessary for procuring property, but are themselves a kind of property, he defines a slave to be “one who by the law of nature does not belong to himself, but who, though a man, belongs to another. He is the man of another man.” Place this argument of the great publicist and ethical philosopher of Stagira, in favor of slavery, by the side of the teachings of Paul to masters and servants, and determine whether Paul so much as allows that manowning which Aristotle justifies and approves from the law of nature. Place the system of slavery itself as it existed in the Roman empire, side by side with the gospel of Christ, and answer to your own candid judgment, Do you believe that the gospel sanctions slavery 7 And then let your moral sense answer this further question —If the gospel did approve this system of man-owning, could you believe that the gospel came from God? When the nature of slavery is fairly understood, can infidelity devise a more telling and sneering accusation against the Bible than this—that it sanctions slavery, and sanctifies it as a divine institution ?
entirely avoids and annuls the contract of a master with his slave; gives the slave no action at law against him; admits not of adultery being committed by or with one of them, and compels female slaves to surrender themselves to their mas. ter's lust against their will.” “The Gentile and the Jew,” Vol. II., pp. 259–264. * Plutarch, Life of Cato Major.
* Cochin, Results of slavery; Miss Booth's translation, p. 311. + Coloss. iv. 1., and Ephes. vi. 9. f James v. 4.
* See Aristotle's Polit. and his Nic. Ethics. Also, the admirable summary in Döllinger II., 227, and in Paul Janet, Histoire de la Philosophia Morale, I., 133.
To rebut this monstrous calumny upon the Bible, we have simply to examine the Bible itself, and to trace its influence upon the institution of slavery. But, before going into this examination, we must settle the meaning of terms, that there may be no evasion with regard to the result. What, then, is SLAVERY 7 When this question is asked of an American audience, it can refer to but one thing—the system of slavery as established by law in the Southern States. It is not some abstract relation of master and servant, concerning which we inquire, it is not some antiquated condition of Society that we are seeking to explore, it is not some speculative theory of the relations of capital and labor ;-it is the actual, concrete, definitive system before our eyes in the South ; and that which concerns us is not a usage without law, nor the abuses of a social system, nor the character of individual slaveholders—but the condition of slavery as defined by law. Now, the essential fact in slavery is not the authority of the master over the servant, nor the dependence of the servant upon the master, nor the behavior of the individual master toward his servant, nor the physical condition and treatment of the slave, but the ownership of the slave vested in the master by law.
This ownership of a human being, as an article of property, is the essential feature of American slavery. In this respect it exactly copies the Roman slavery of the time of the apostles. By judicial decisions under Southern law, “slaves are deemed, held, taken, reputed and adjudged in law to be chattels personal in the hands of their owners and possessors, and their executors, administrators, and assigns, to all intents, constructions and purposes whatsoever.”* That is the legal condition of the slave : and that condition, of a human being declared by law a chattel, an article of property or merchandise, defines the essential nature of slavery. The privation of every right, the possibility of every wrong, is couched in this one principle of Southern law, that the slave is a chattel. Keeping this in mind, I ask again, DOES CHRISTIANITY SANCTION SLAVERY 2’ But we must also define Christianity. The Ghent professor, with the very art of Woltaire, confounds Christianity with the Roman Catholic Church, and thus charges upon the gospel the hostility to liberty which he alleges against that church. But Christianity is not to be identified with any ecclesiastical system, nor with the opinions and practices of any of its ministers or professors. It has its own text-book, * South Carolina code, Prince's Digest, 446. The Louisiana civil code, Art. 35, declares that “a slave is one who is in the power of a master to whom he belongs. The master may sell him, dispose of his person, his industry, and his labor. He can do nothing, possess nothing, nor acquire anything, but what must belong to his master.” This principle has been abundantly maintained by Southern courts.
(See in Wheeler's Law of Slavery, Stroud's Sketch of the Laws relating to Slavery, Goodell's American Slave Code, etc.)