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has formed a soil, whose productiveness may, for a while, sustain a system at variance with the laws of nature. Many of our free and of our slaveholding States were peopled at about the same time. The slaveholding States had every advantage, both in soil and climate, over their neighbors. And yet the accumulation of capital has been greatly in favor of the latter. If any one doubts whether this difference be owing to the use of slave labor, let him ask himself what would have been the condition of the slaveholding States, at this moment, if they had been inhabited, from the beginning, by an industrious yeomanry; each one holding his own land, and each one tilling it with the labor of his own hands.
The moral precepts of the Bible are diametrically opposed to slavery. They are, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself
, and all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them.
The application of these precepts is universal. Our neighbor is every one whom we may benefit. The obligation respects all things whatsoever. The precept, then, manifestly, extends to men, as men, or men in every condition, and if to all things whatsoever, certainly to a thing so important as the right to personal liberty.
Again. By this precept, it is made our duty to cherish as tender and delicate a respect for the right which the meanest individual posseses over the means of happiness bestowed upon him by God, as we cherish for our own right over our own means of happiness, or as we desire any other individual to cherish for it. Now, were this precept obeyed, it is manifest that slavery could not in fact exist for a single instant. The principle of the precept is absolutely subversive of the principle of slavery. That of the one is the entire equality of right; that of the other, the entire absorption of the rights of one in the rights of the other.
If any one doubts respecting the bearing of the Scripture precept upon this case, a few plain questions may throw additional light upon the subject. For instance,
"Do the precepts and the spirit of the Gospel allow me to derive my support from a system which extorts labor from my fellow-men, without allowing them any voice in the equivalent which they shall receive; and which can only be sustained by
keeping them in a state of mental degradation, and by shutting them out, in a great degree, from the means of salvation ?
“Would the master be willing that another person should subject him to slavery, for the same reasons, and on the same grounds, that he holds his slave in bondage ?
"Would the Gospel allow us, if it were in our power, to reduce our fellow-citizens of our own color to slavery? If the gospel be diametrically opposed to the principle of slavery, it must be opposed to the practice of slavery; and therefore, were the principles of the gospel fully adopted, slavery could not exist.
“ The very course which the gospel takes on this subject, seems to have been the only one that could have been taken, in order to effect the universal abolition of slavery. The gospel was designed, not for one race, or for one time, but for all races, and for all times. It looked not at the abolition of this form of evil for that age alone, but for its universal abolition. Hence, the important object of its Author was, to gain it a lodgment in every part of the known world ; so that, by its universal diffusion among all classes of society, it might quietly and peacefully modify and subdue the evil passions of men; and thus, without violence, work a revolution in the whole mass of mankind.
“ If the system be wrong, as we have endeavored to show, if it be at variance with our duty both to God and to man, it must be abandoned. If it be asked when, I ask again, when shall a man begin to cease doing wrong? Is not the answer, immediately? If a man is injuring us, do we ever doubt as to the time when he ought to cease ? There is then no doubt in respect to the time when we ought to cease inflicting injury upon others.”
“I have not a stronger conviction of scarcely anything, than that slaveholding (except when the slave has forfeited his liberty by crimes against society) is wicked and inconsistent with Christian character. To me it is evident, that whoever would purchase an innocent black man to make him a slave, would
with equal readiness purchase a white one for the same purpose,
At a meeting of the General Committee of the Baptists
“ Resolved, That slavery is a violent deprivation of the rights of nature, and inconsistent with republican government, and therefore we recommend it to our brethren to make use of every measure to extirpate this horrid evil from the land ; and pray Almighty God that our honorable legislature may have it in their power to proclaim the great jubilee, consistent with the principles of good policy."
John Wesley, the celebrated founder of Methodism, says :
“ Men buyers are exactly on a level with men stealers."
Again, he says:
“American Slavery is the vilest that ever saw the sun ; it constitutes the sum of all villanies."
The learned Dr. Adam Clarke, author of a voluminous commentary on the Scriptures, says :
“ Slave-dealers, whether those who carry on the traffic in human flesh and blood; or those who steal a person in order to sell him into bondage ; or those who buy such stolen men or women, no matter of what color, or what country; or the nations who legalize or connive at such traffic ; all these are men-stealers, and God classes them with the most flagitious of mortals."
One of the rules laid down in the Methodist Discipline, as amended in 1784, was as follows :
“Every member of our Society who has slaves in his possession, shall, within twelve months after notice given to him by the assistant, legally execute and record an instrument, whereby he emancipates and sets free every slave in his possession.”
“No person holding slaves shall in future be admitted into Society, or to the Lord's Supper, till he previously complies with these rules concerning slavery."
The answer to the question—"What shall be done with those who buy or sell slaves, or give them away"_is couched in the following language :
“They are immediately to be expelled, unless they buy them on purpose to free them."
In 1785, the voice of this church was heard as follows :
“We do hold in the deepest abhorrence the practice of slavery, and shall not cease to seek its destruction, by all wise and prudent means."
In 1797, the Discipline contained the following wholesome paragraph :
“The preachers and other members of our Society are requested to consider the subject of negro slavery, with deep attention, and that they impart to the General Conference
, through the medium of the Yearly Conferences, or otherwise, any important thoughts on the subject, that the Conference may have full light, in order to take further steps towards eradicating this enormous evil from that part of the Church of God with which they are connected. The Annual Conferences are directed to draw up addresses for the gradual emancipation of the slaves, to the legislatures of those States in which no general laws have been passed for that purpose. These addresses shall urge, in the most respectful but pointed manner, the necessity of a law
for the gradual emancipation of slaves. Proper committees shall
It has been only about twenty years since Pope Gregory XVI. immortalized himself by issuing the famous Bull against slavery, from which the following is an extract :
“Placed as we are on the Supreme seat of the apostles, and acting, though by no merits of our own, as the vicegerent of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who, through his great mercy, condescended to make himself man, and to die for the redemption of the world, we regard as a duty devolving on our pastoral functions, that we endeavor to turn aside our faithful flocks entirely from the inhuman traffic in negroes, or any other human beings whatever.
In progress of time, as the clouds of heathen superstition became gradually dispersed, circumstances reached that point, that during several centuries there were no slaves allowed amongst the great majority of the Christian nations; but with grief we are compelled to add, that there afterwards arose, even among the faithful, a race of men, who, basely blinded by the appetite and desire of sordid lucre, did not hesitate to reducc, in remote regions of the earth, Indians, negroes, and other wretched beings, to the misery of slavery ; or, finding the trade established and augmented, to assist the shameful crime of others. Nor did many of the most glorious of the Roman Pontiffs omit severely to reprove their conduct, as injurious to their souls' health, and disgraceful to the Christian name. Among these may be especially quoted the bull of Paul III., which bears the date of the 29th of May, 1537,