From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 7),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 1-25
THE RELATION OF MASTER AND SLAVE, AS IT EXISTS IN THE SOUTH, INCONSISTENT WITH THE SLAVE'S DUTY TO HIS CREATOR
Written by C. C. Grafton when at Harvard Law School, 1853, and printed for circulation by Wendell Phillips
IT is difficult to speak calmly of great vices, to place the deepest, most intense feelings of the heart in the cold formulae of an algebraic equation, or to force its quick pulsations to beat in regulated measure. God and the Right on the one side, Slavery and the Wrong on the other, are fiercely contesting for the supremacy. It is impossible for the most careless and indifferent to watch the contest without a passing emotion. The longer one looks into it, the clearer will be his perception of the Right. The more he analyzes the mighty issues, the more gigantic they appear; the more profoundly he meditates upon his own position, the more imminent seems his peril. It is not only a question of Humanityof the degradation and demoralization of a Raceof cruelties unspeakable, that have made the word Slave a "litany of woe." It is not only a question of Libertypersonal, state, and nationalof free speech and trial by juryof state rights invaded and laws defiedof national government pervertedperverted from its high purpose of affording here a shelter and asylum for the oppressed ones of tyrannyperverted from its true end of establishing a freer and purer governmentperverted from its organic character, a Republic, and transformed, in fact, into an Oligarchybut above and beyond this it involves an issue vital to Christianity itself. No peace has yet been declared between Evil and Good. They cannot live in harmony together. The war between them can terminate only in the annihilation of one of the combatants. Either Christianity must vanquish Slavery, or Slavery will overcome Christianity. All willingly admit it is an evil. Let us not strive to elude the question, Is it a sin? Many regard it as some far-off wrong; how few hearts feel keenly the conviction that it is a great national sin?
In examining this question we shall appeal to no sectional feelings. We even invoke not your spirit of humanity. We ask you only to remember that there is a God.
Let us here in the beginning fully and carefully state the question to be considered, that we may all clearly see and constantly keep in view the headland to which we are steering.
Names do not change the nature of things. To call a thing Slavery does not make it so. What is known as Slavery in one country or time may be only villiany in another. From the word Slavery we cannot infer that the thing spoken of is the same as the relation which exists at the South, and is there known by that name. Slavery being a relation established by the law of the land, may be consequently different in every country. We cannot, therefore, show the law of Southern Slavery wrong, by simply proving the relation known in any other country as Slavery, to be wrong,Roman Slavery, for example. We cannot prove the law of Southern Slavery right, by showing that of another countryJewish Slavery, for exampleto be right.
Our inquiry deals not then with Slavery as it exists in other countries or times, or with any abstract notion of Slavery, but with Southern Slavery as it exists among us to-day.
The question, then, for our consideration is this: Whether the relation of Master and Slave, as it exists at the South, is opposed to the Right and Truth? Whether the Law of Southern Slavery is consonant with or in opposition to the Law of God?
The law of Southern Slavery clothes one man with certain powers over another. The dominant one is called Master, the servient one Slave. The relation of Master and Slave consists in the control and power given the one over the other. Let us look at the law and see with what power it clothes the Master, and how it regards the Slave.
"A slave is one," says the civil code of Louisiana, "who is in the power of the Master to whom he belongs. The Master may sell him, dispose of his person, his industry, his labor. He can do nothing, possess nothing, nor acquire anything but what must belong to his master." Again, "Slaves shall be taken, reputed, and adjudged to be chattels personal, etc., for all intents and purposes whatsoever." In Jarman vs. Patterson, 7 Monroe, 644, the Court said, "Slaves, although they are human beings, are by our laws placed on the same footing with living property of the brute creationa slave, by our code, is not treated as a person, but (negotium) a thing, as he stood in the civil code of the Roman Empire." "The condition of slaves (Ex. of Walker vs. Bostick, 4 Dess. 266) in this country is analogous to that of the ancients, the Greeks and Romans, and not that of the villains of feudal times. They can be sold as goods; they are held to be pro nullis, pro mortuis."
"It is plain," says Judge Stroud, in his sketch of Slavery, "that the dominion of the master is as unlimited as that which is tolerated by the laws of a civilized country in relation to brute animals." The Court of Appeals, in its decision (Ex parte Boylston, 2 Strobh, 43), said, "A slave can neither invoke Magna Charta nor common law, as is well said in Kenloch vs. Harvey, Harp. 514, 'Every attempt to extend a slave's positive rights is an attempt to reconcile inherent contradictions.' In the very nature of things he is subject to despotism. Law as to him is only a compact between his rulers, and the questions which concern him are matters agitated between them." In the State vs. Mann, 2 Dev. 263, Chief Justice Ruflin delivered the opinion of the Court: "Such (the Slave's) services can only be expected from one who has no will of his own, who surrenders his will in implicit obedience to that of another. Such obedience is the consequence only of uncontrolled authority over the body. The power of the master must be absolute to render the submission of the slave perfect. As a principle of moral right, every person in his retirement must repudiate it. But it must be so. We cannot allow the right of the master to be brought into discussion in the courts of justice. The slave, to remain a slave, must be sensible there is no appeal from his master, and that this power is conferred by the laws of man, at least, if not by the laws of God." In Neal vs. Farmer, 9 Geor. 555, the Court held killing a slave no felony. They say: "The civil rights of the Master do not appertain to the slaveof these he can have none whatever. If the common law be applicable to a state of slavery, it would seem to be applicable as much in one as another particular. If he protects the life of a slave, why not his liberty? If he protects his liberty, then it breaks down at once the status of the slave. It is absurd to talk about the common law being applicable to an institution which it would destroy." Again: "The Georgia planter held the slave as a chattel. Whence does the planter derive his title? Either directly from the slave trader, or from those who held under him, and he from the slave-captor in Africa. The property in the slave in the planter became thus just the property of the original captor. There is no sensible account to be given of property in slaves but this. What were then the rights of the African chief in the slave which he had captured by war? The slave was his to sell, or to give, or to kill." The same point was also decided in State vs. Fleming, 2 Strobh, 464 (1848). The Court held that an indictment does not lie at common law for the homicide of a slave, but that it was purely a statutory offense. Being a thing, property in a slave may be acquired by prescription (Little's Ad. vs. Chauvin, I Missouri, 626). Being a thing, he cannot acquire property (Ex. of Walker vs. Bostick, 4 Dess. 266). Being a thing, the peace, it has been held in some states, is not broken by the beating of it by a stranger. (Wheeler's Law of Slavery, 243.)
It is obvious, however, as a thing cannot be held accountable, that this doctrine would, applied as a defense for the slave, imperil the master's possession and his life. Hence in criminal law slaves are regarded as persons. The masters cannot wantonly take away the slave's life, or maim him (if it can be proved by white testimony). His power, in this respect, has been by statute abridged. For the one thing called slave is put on the same level, in some respects, with things of its kindbrute animals. A master, for instance, cannot torture the slave, or cruelly beat him in the open street. The reason is thus given by the Court (5 Rand. 678, Commonwealth vs. Turner): "Where one should take his slave into a market-place, and there violently beat him, it is not because it was a slave who was beaten, nor because the act was cruel and unprovoked, but because it was offensive to public decency. The same would be the law if a horse had been so beaten, and yet it would not be pretended that it was in respect to the rights of the horse that this interposition would take place." For the same reason, by statute it has been rendered obligatory upon the master to supply the slave with a certain amount of food and clothing.
We find, then, that by this law the party called slave in this relation, is reduced from his place in the human family as person or man, and made a chattel or thing. That consequently he who occupies the position of master has power and control over the slave as over a thing. Now things cannot have rightsonly Persons have rights. As a machine works for its owner and cannot, being a thing, derive any benefit to itself, so the thing called Slave cannot participate in the profits of his labor, which accrue solely to its owner. The machine must be protected from the atmosphere, fed with its daily allowance of wood and water, repaired when broken or deranged; so the slave machine must be housed at night, and daily stocked with water and bread. When broken or deranged, the peculiarity of its construction prohibits repair.
From the relation of master and slave thus established by the Law of Slavery, as it exists in Southern States, let us turn and briefly consider some of the rights conferred, and duties imposed, by the Law of God on the slave. Here, fortunately, the strife of sect enters not. However else Geneva, and Oxford, and Rome may differ, here they are at peace. Let us begin at the beginning, with the statement of clear, simple, elementary truths.
The creature is the subject of the Creator. The will of the creator is the creature's law. God's will, then, is the law of man. The creature, man, owes the duty of obedience to his Creator, God. No lesser power than that which established the relation and imposed the duty, can remit or absolve man from its performance. Now man is a conscious and intelligent creature; is capable of apprehending his Creator's declared will with respect to his duty. He has, unlike other creatures, the power of choice between obeying and disobeying the will of his Creator. The tree must be obedient to its maker's law. Man has the power of election. Having then the power of obeying or disobeying his Creator's law, from which no earthly authority can absolve him, man is responsible to his Maker. This responsibility gives' him corresponding rights, the imposition of a duty and responsibility necessarily conferring a right.
Now the creature, tree, is created a tree. It is subject as creature to its Creator. The will of its Creator is law. Not having the capacity like the creature, man, of obeying or disobeying its Creator, it necessarily obeys the law of its being. It is not then a responsible creature, for it is a thing. Not being responsible, it has no rights. Now the creature, man, is created a man. He owes to his Creator a duty as man. He is also responsible to his Creator for the performance of that duty. The imposition of this responsibility gives him corresponding rightthe right to be a man. A right, inherent, inseparable, inalienableinherent in his nature, universal against the world.
It is unnecessary to give a perfect and absolute definition of this word man or to state all that under it may be implied or comprehended. The demonstration of the problem is not obscured or its conclusiveness impaired if we substitute other, or even regard it simply as an algebraic term. For example, this creature, man, owes a duty to his Creator for which he is responsible. No authority less than the Creator which imposed it can absolve from its performance. Created a responsible being (man), he has necessarily the corresponding right, to be a responsible being. Whatever "responsible being" may signify, it is clear it cannot be thing, for things are not responsible creatures. Now the question is, whether the Law of Slavery is the same, being in harmony with, or other and contradictory to, the Law of God. The Law of God has given and clothed the creature, man, with this right. The Law of Southern Slavery, in the relation of master and slave, takes this right away, and makes him a thing in direct opposition to the Law of God.
Note well the distinction between this opposition of the Law of Slavery to the Law of God, and solitary infractions of single ordinances and commands of the Almighty. Theft or Murder, for example; they are infractions by individuals of single commands. But slavery establishes a Law with respect to the slave's being, in direct contradiction to that established by God. Slave law abrogates the rights of the slave, founded on his duty and responsibility as man.
Let us take a few examples of the most ordinary and simple duties imposed on the conscious and intelligent creature, and see how their performance by the slave is opposed and prevented.
Every person has some particular purpose or destiny to fulfil. However humble, he has a calling or vocation in life. Although much neglected, it is his duty to seek for and earnestly pursue it when found. This duty the party reduced to the status of slave cannot perform. The right conferred is by Slave law taken away.
The spirit and soul of man is destined for high and noble attainments; it is the duty of all to improve, and to bury their talents. All have a right, with respect to their fellow men, that no law shall prohibit and prevent their improvement. The Slave law crushes him down to the brute, and shuts from him the means of enlightenment.
To all mankind a Revelation has been made. It is the duty of all to search it, and learn thence their obligations. This duty gives to each an absolute right. This right and duty Slave law takes away. Against the will of the owner, the thing slave can claim no right to the consolations of Religion.
The will of the Creator is the law for the creature.
God's will is the law for man. There cannot be two laws for a man to obey with respect to the same duty. Man cannot serve two masters. He is then independent of his fellow creatures in everything respecting his duty to God. The relation of Master and Slave by giving unlimited power to the master, interferes with the relation of Maker and man. It substitutes the will of the Master for the Law of God.
It is the duty of each one to be guided in his actions by his own conscience. At least he may claim that to no one shall power be given, to compel him to be accessory to what he believes a sin. This duty Slave law interferes withthis right it takes away.
Upon every parent is imposed the weighty responsibility and duty of training up their children. Has he not, at least, the right that no fellow-man shall have the power of severing that connection and control, or of substituting his will for the lawful authority of the parent. This duty it subvertsthis right it takes away.
No law of Christianity has been more clearly enunciated, its rights and duties more accurately denned, its holiness and sanctity more deeply inculcated than that of marriage. It forms a distinguishing and marked characteristic of Christianity itself. It distinguishes it from Idolatry and Heathenism. It ennobles man's nature. It has been elevated into a sacrament. It is taken as symbolical, even by our blessed Lord, of the conjunction of Himself and His Church. "Have ye not read that He which made them at the beginning, made them male and female? And said, for this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one fleshwhat therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." This relation of husband and wife, the relation of master and slave does not recognize. The assent of the parties' minds is the essence of a contract. The slave is made by the law a thing. Things cannot contract. Hence the slave, by the fundamental principle of Slave law, cannot marry.
"The marriage of Slaves," says the Court, "consists of cohabitation merely by permission of their owners. It does not constitute the relation of husband and wife." (The State vs. Samuel, 2 Dev. & Batt. 177, 181.) "Slaves cannot contract marriage," says Stroud. "The association which takes place and is called marriage, is one which has no sanctity, and to which no civil rights are attached."
"We do not see (Parsons on Contracts, 341) how any ceremonies, civil or religious, could make such marriage legal. We think that a slave cannot be guilty of adultery, when this crime can only be committed by a married person; nor of polygamy; nor made incompetent as a witness, on the ground of the relation of marriage."
And now for a moment consider again the tremendous power the master has of enforcing his commands. The power given him by Slave law extends to the life of the slave only as prevented by statute. "He cannot be indicted for the cruel, excessive beating of his slave." (5 Rand. 678.) He is, however, prohibited from wantonly taking the slave's life or limb (if it can be proved by white testimony), provided the slave be not outlawed, or in an act of resistance. In State vs. Weaver, 2 Hay. 54, the law was thus given to the jury, "If the slave used force, and was resisting by force when he was killed, or if he offered to resist by force, the prisoner is justifiable." The statutes of all the states are not exactly alike, and the power in some is not so much abridged. For instance, the Court (3 McCord, 533, The State vs. Guy Raines) decided that "the act of 1821, rendering it murder to kill a slave, does not take away from the prisoner, if he be master or overseer, in whose possession the slave was killed, the right of exculpating himself by his own oath. And the fact of a third person (white) coming up at the moment of the death, after the wounds were given, will not alter the case."
It is needless to ask whether such a power of man over man is compatible with the Law of God. By that Law every man is independent of the law of his fellow men in everything, in respect to the duty of obeying God's clear and positive commands. Slavery makes no exception in the power it gives the master in favor of this right, which every man has on account of his duty to his Creator. "Every attempt to extend to a Slave positive rights, is an attempt to reconcile inherent contradictions; for in the very nature of things, he is subject to despotism." No matter to what the slave reposes obedience, the master is clothed by law with a most fearful and tremendous power for the enforcement of his commands. The slave's duty to his Creator is to disobey what the relation of Master and Slave may legally compel him to perform. Every hour of each day, each minute of every hour, is weighty with the responsibility which the relation of Maker and Man imposes. Can this artificial relation established by Slave law be in accordance with that higher one established by God's law, when it cannot, without imperiling its existence, even recognize the relation of Maker and Man? There is hardly a command in the decalogue, not an injunction of Christianity, which slavery does not violate. It transforms the person of Man into a chattel or thing. It substitutes the will of the Master for the Law of God. It prevents the performance of the duties the Slave owes to his Creator, it abrogates the rights which follow them. Would it be atrocious to deprive the body of sight; is it not infinitely more so to destroy that of the mind? Is it sinful to inculcate disrespect to parents; is it not a more fearful violation of God's commands to destroy the relations of parent and child, and husband and wife? Is it criminal to steal from another the labor of his hands? Slavery intensifies this crime also, and seizes from a man his very self. Is it infamous to commit adultery?
Slave law reverses that decree, and even weakens the command, "Thou shalt do no murder."
Let us now examine briefly some of the popular fallacies and objections. We have not assumed, it will be observed, the equality of the black and white race, nor even that they descended from one common progenitor. The self-evident, undisputed fact was alone taken, that the black was possessed of those faculties which made him a responsible being.
Perhaps the most popular and the most fallacious of objections is the assertion that the Bible supports slavery. There are some things which the common sense of mankind has regarded as acknowledged truths. What it has once tested in its crucible and found to be gold, it does not again analyze. It has not had time to listen to those who deny the existence of an outward world. Some subtle fallacy, it knows, lurks in the meshes of the metaphysician. Practical wisdom feels there is a fallacy somewhere without unraveling the snarl. It tests the soundness of reasoning by its results. It builds railroads and subscribes to stock, though it cannot answer the ingenious argument of the sophist, that proves it an illusion. Having demonstrated that relation of master and slave is inconsistent with the duty the slave owes his Creator, it logically follows that the revelation of that law and duty cannot support a relation inconsistent with it.
That arguments can be manufactured from the Bible in its favor, is not a matter of surprise. Arguments can be made on both sides of every question.
"There are objections," said Dr. Johnson, "against a plenum and objections against vacuum, and yet one must be true." God's revelation of man's duty must be consistent with the known relation of Maker and Man. "Your argument," says Practical Wisdom, "must be somewhere fallacious if it seeks to put any other construction upon it. Much labor will not enable me to sweep away your fog, but ascend a little the mountain and you can overlook it." It is a sufficient demonstration of the traveler's mistake, that his road has brought him to a wrong destination. It is unnecessary to point out the various fallacies of that construction of the Bible which makes it sanction Southern Slavery. It is sufficient to demonstrate that such argument leads to an impossibility. Nevertheless, when it is argued, because Jewish Slavery was tolerated, therefore Southern Slavery is right, it may be suggested, that to lay the foundation for the argument, the analogy must first be perfectly demonstrated. It must be proved that the Southern States are under the same instant and immediate direction of the great God as the Jewish nation; text and passages cited, reducing the slave from his position in the human family as person, and transforming him into a thing; clear and positive injunctions shown that he shall be considered as "chattel personal for all intents and purposes whatsoever," and shall be deprived of all rights, and made subject to despotism. Explicit commands are adduced depriving the slave against the will of his master to all right, even to life, except as the master may see fit partially to grant protection by statute. Cogent and plenary testimony is produced that the slave was regarded by Jewish law as a brute animal. The last exception to the seventh commandment discovered, "that a slave cannot commit adultery." The decree produced prohibited marriage, and forced the slave to live in a state of concubinage. The voice of God is heard giving power and dominion to man over man, as clearly as in Eden He gave it to man over brute.
Not until then Jewish Slavery is proved in all these respects the same as Southern Slavery; and further, not until the slave is demonstrated to have been deprived of all rights;1 not until the Jewish master's power and authority is shown to have been unlimited by even constant priestly oversight and control, or otherwise; not until the theory of an unlimited power is reconciled with the command, "Thou shalt not deliver unto the Master the servant which has escaped unto thee;"2 not until the fair construction that the slaves sold themselves to their masters, and so voluntarily entered into a Relation for a term of years, little differing from master and servant, is excluded, will the argument that the Old Testament sanctions Southern (American) Slavery take a logical form.
But it is sometimes said, the New Testament sanctions slavery. Did not St. Paul send back a slave, who had escaped from his master? What are the facts? Onesimus, a slave of Philemon, having robbed his master, fled to Rome. He was there converted to Christianity by St. Paul. Such were his talents and piety that the Apostle desired his labors in the ministrations of the Gospel. If Paul sent Onesimus at once upon his work, should Philemon hear that his dishonest slave was preaching the Gospel, and pretending to have authority from Paul, he would at once, being himself intimate with the Apostle, denounce Onesimus as a hypocrite and impostor, seize his slave, and perhaps put him to death. A communication to Philemon was therefore necessary. It was also the duty and wish of Onesimus, now a Christian, to make restitution and ask his master's forgiveness. Paul will make restitution for him. And to teach each their duty, the Apostle sends Onesimus as bearer of his epistle, back to Philemon. It is the only instance of the return of a fugitive slave to his master in the inspired word. For some wise and significant purpose, doubtless, it is there recorded. Did St. Paul send Onesimus back into slavery? In a humble and foreright spirit let us examine the Epistle, and learn our duty.
It commences with the Apostolic greeting. In it St. Paul salutes Philemon with such endearing, loving terms, as only he had used to Timothy, his son. The better to excite Philemon's compassion towards Onesimus, he first excites it towards himself. "Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, unto our dearly beloved and fellow laborer. Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." With great address and skill he first warmly commends Philemon for his love and faith, which has come to his hearing. And "I thank my God," says the Apostle, "making mention of thee always in my prayers, that thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging (or doing) of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus." And then after this beautiful, winning, ingenious exordium, he again praises him, having "great joy and consolation in thy love." Then he proceeds: "Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient (proper), yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee. I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds (whom I have, while in prison, converted to Christianity), whom I have sent again; thou therefore receive him that is my own bowels (my very soulmy own dear son). For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldst receive him forever; not now as a slave, but above a slave, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more to thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord. If thou count me, therefore, a partner, receive him as myself. If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee aught, put that on my account. I, Paul, have written it with my own hand. Having confidence in thy obedience, I wrote unto thee, knowing thou wilt also do more than I say."
Solemnly in Christ's name speaking with the voice of inspiration, the great Apostle enjoins and beseeches Philemon, "having confidence in his obedience," to receive his dear son, Onesimus, "not now as a slave, but above a slave, a brother beloved." Although he might in virtue of his high office enjoin upon Philemon his duty, yet with great tenderness and delicacy he would rather fashion it as a loving entreaty. But the Apostle, first having won him, in concluding, puts him upon his obedience. He is to receive Onesimus, "not now as a slave, but above a slave, a brother beloved."
It may, perhaps, here be objected, that all here meant, was, that the master should receive him again without punishment; that Philemon was simply to receive him as a Christian brothernot that it was his duty to manumit him.
This was not much of a favor or "benefit" (verse 14) for St. Paul to ask or for Philemon to grant. \
Philemon was a Christian. As he forgave others their trespasses, so he prayed his might be forgiven. Had the penitent Onesimus sought his master, bringing not an epistle from the great Apostle, but only his own bitter tears of repentance, and, for their dear Lord's sake, besought his master's forgiveness, think you it would not have been obtained? Those were days of practical Christianity. Would not Philemon, the dearly beloved fellow laborer of Paul, have forgiven his brother once? Think you he would have raised his hand to punish while the echoes of that divine choral over the repenting sinner were yet lingering in the courts of heaven?
Would it not have been tidings of great joy to Philemon, that in the humble manger of his poor slave's heart a Saviour had been born? Think you his looks of love and forgiveness would not have far outrun his speech?
If this was all the import of the epistle, why should St. Paul so entreat and beseech Philemon? Why does he put him upon his "obedience"? Why does he speak of it as a "benefit" to be conferred? Why such consummate art and skill displayed in every phrase? Why does he deviate from his customary mode of address? Why such care and discreetness in the opening and management of his subject? Why, with an intensity of feeling that trembles in every linein Christ's dear namefor love's sakedoes Paul, "the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ," with many an endearing word of affection, besiege Philemon's heart? Not till he has thus laboriously prepared the way, does he enter upon his theme. He is telling Philemon something more than merely to receive Onesimus as a Christian Brother. Philemon needed not an Apostle to write an inspired epistle, to tell him that. He is telling him to receive Onesimus as a brother in both senses of the word. But we do the Apostle and the inspired Word great wrong thus to linger with inferences. Clear and emphatic are the words of inspiration; they meet the very point, and prevent all possible misunderstanding. Onesimus was to be received "not now as a slave, but above a slave, a brother beloved, both in the Flesh and in the Lord. If thou count me," says St. Paul, "as a Partner, receive him as Myself."
And it may be noticed that Onesimus, after a little time, according to Calmet, returned to Rome. From this time his employment was in the ministry of the Gospel. We find him with Tychicus, bearing St. Paul's epistle to the Colossians, to "know their estate and comfort their hearts." (Col. iv. 7 and 9.) He was afterwards raised and appointed to a bishopric by St. Paul. This is recorded both in the Apostolic constitutions, and in the Roman martyrology.
How often is the text, "Servants or slaves, be obedient to your masters," quoted as proving the law of Southern Slavery right? Is the word of God to man contained in any single phrase, or does the whole Bible taken and construed together, make up the One Word of God? Would it be right to make deductions of abstract principles from those instances in Holy Scriptures where the life of man has been justifiably taken, to mold them into the fundamental law of the land, and to leave out altogether the injunction "Thou shalt not kill"? How would 'the common sense of mankind answer the sophist who would cite the Bible as authority for such a code as would be thus established. Because a precept is found with respect to servants, is the law which has engrafted it upon the statute book, in accordance with or sanctioned by the word of God, when it has omitted to equally place the commands and injunctions to the masters there also? The question is, whether the Slave law is in accordance with God's revelation? It takes one single command to a particular class, and works it to death. To the last possible or conceivable deduction that can be hazarded from it, Slave law expands and develops it, and makes it the fundamental law of the slave's being. When not only, "Slaves, be obedient to your masters," is found developed on the Southern statute book, but also, "And ye masters do the same things unto them, forbearing Threatening" (Eph. vi. 9); when the divine command, "Masters give unto your slaves that which is just and equal, knowing that ye also have a master in Heaven" (Col. iv. i), is also to the same extent, and in equal degree and force, put on the statute book, can Divine authority be cited in its support. Commands are given to the slavecommands are laid upon the master. Southern Slave law adopts the precepts given to the one, and entirely omits the other. Is it, then, in accordance with Divine revelation, when it suppresses half of it? It is unnecessary, we repeat, to point out the fallacy of this argument, that the Bible supports slavery. But does the intelligent and candid mind experience here any great difficulty in discovering the error?
Briefly has this question been treated, and much have we left unsaid. But so far from supporting the Law of Southern Slavery, as it exists to-day, the doctrine of the New Testament annuls it. The Apostles did not omit to speak of so great a wrong. They found a Relation of Master and Slave existing, and they laid upon it stringent laws and regulations. Place upon the Southern statute book the divine command to the master "to forbear threatening," and what becomes of the Relation of Master and Slave? Carry fully out on its pages the dogma that the slave owes a duty to his God, and what becomes of the "uncontrollable authority of the master"? Lay the master under as severe penalties to give unto the slave that which is just and equal before God, as the slave is laid under to be obedient unto his master, and what becomes of the Southern Relation of Master and Slave? Would you, in such a case, clothe the Slave with Rights? If so, he is no longer a slave. "To clothe the slave with positive rights, is to reconcile inherent contradictions." Would you, in such a case, protect, in a measure, the slave's liberty? "If you protect his liberty, you break down the status of slave." If the law compels the master to recognize the slave as a brother beloved, and give unto him that which is "just and equal," he must recognize the slave as a man, and give unto him the rights of a man. The moment Slave law declares the slave a man, it pronounces its own destruction. If the slave is by law declared a person, he is not a thing; if not a thing, he is not a Southern Slave. If Slave law is in harmony with God's law, how is it that incorporating the latter with the former destroys the Relation of Master and Slave? Does then the Bible support Southern Slavery? It has been shown that Slavery is sinful, because it deprives the slave of the rights which his Maker has conferred, and prevents the performance of those duties which the law of his being imposes.
Briefly the nature of that sin has been shown. Unlike the infractions, by individuals, of single commandments, it is the establishment of an organic law in direct antagonism to that of God. Either, then, Christianity must vanquish Slavery, or Slavery will overcome it. In presenting the question, we have carefully avoided any appeal to the feelings. Simply as one interesting to the candid and philosophic mind has it been discussed. To the incidental evils Slavery breeds; of the wrongs it inflicts to man, woman, and child, in every department of life, bond or free, we have not alluded. It was to no story of the slave's sufferings your indulgence was asked. That can be found elsewhere. Over this Christian land many a stained footprint is seen, pointing northward. The waters of many a Southern river go troubled on their way for the broken hearts that lie beneath. Our inquiry was: Is the Law of Slavery in accordance with the Law of God? Our answer: The Relation of Master and Slave interferes with the Relation of Maker and Man.