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obliged to admit 200,000 of them, along with their wives and children, to share in the sportula. Under the Antonines, the recipients of public aid increased to the number of half a million.

Many others, shrinking on the one hand from a life of idleness, and debarred on the other from honest toil by the stigma cast upon it, betook themselves to corrupting professions, such as pantomimes, hired gladiators, political spies, panders, astrologers, and religious charlatans.

The debauchery of morals was the first feature of slavery. Reinforced from various parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia, the slaves contributed each his favorite vice to swell the common tide of depravity. All soon became indoctrinated in the iniquity of their companions. Denied the privileges of lawful wedlock, they plunged into the lowest depths of sensuality. Mothers had ceased to train their own children. They had neither inclination nor capacity for such duties—the race of Cornelias had disappeared. The instruction of youth of both sexes was confided to slaves. For the social degradation to which they were subjected they were amply avenged by the moral degradation in which they involved their pupils. Excluded from civic honors and preferment, they wielded their brief authority over the youths committed to their care with terrible effect by initiating them into every species of vice. Denied the privilege of bearing arms, the bondmen used with consummate skill the weapons of lying, deceit, and treachery. Taught from childhood, by their accommodating teachers, to regard no law but that of their own whims, the Roman youth of both sexes grew up proud, insolent, and overbearing; and the first victims of their caprice were often the slaves themselves. Many a bondwoman received on her naked breast the sharp point of the stiletto, darted at her by her haughty and inperious mistress.' In a word, the homes of the rich and noble were hot-beds of moral corruption.

Nor do the Mohammedans in Africa exhibit less greed in our day in reducing their fellow-beings to the yoke of slavery, nor less cruelty in the treatment of them than did the Romans in Pagan times.

Livingstone, Cameron, and still more recently Cardinal Lavigerie, Archbishop of Carthage, who is furnished with information by his missionaries, declare that at least 400,000 negroes are annually carried into bondage in Africa by Mussulman traders, and that fully five times that number perish either by being massacred in the slave-hunt, or from hunger and hardship on the journey. Thus

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i Dio Cass., ly. 10.

2 “ The Gentile and the Jew,” ii, 281, 3 See Cardinal Wiseman's “ Fabiola," ch. iv. • The last journals of Dr. Livingstone. London, 1874. i "Across Africa."

6 Conference delivered in Paris, 1888.


the lives or liberty of upwards of two millions of the human race are each year sacrificed on the altars of lust and mammon.

The line of march taken by the caravans bearing their human freight from Equatorial Africa to the slave-markets, can be easily traced by the bleaching bones of the unfortunate victims who succumbed to famine and fatigue on the way.

In consequence of this iniquitous commerce, entire villages in the interior of Africa are depopulated, and extensive districts are made desolate by the organized incursions of these traffickers in human flesh.

II. Among the many social blessings conferred by Christianity, her successful efforts in the mitigation of the excesses of slavery and in the gradual emancipation of the slave, will justly hold a conspicuous place.

The Church did not deem it a part of her mission hastily to sever, or rudely to disturb, the relations that she found subsisting between master and man. She encountered slavery in every land. The bondmen were, in most places, largely in excess of the free population. They were regarded rather as chattels than as human beings, and were looked upon as an indispensable element of family life. With such ideas ruling the world, a violent crusade against slavery would cause a universal upheaval of society; it would involve the Commonwealth in bloodshed, and would be disastrous to the slaves themselves. The Apostles and their successors pursued a policy that, without injustice, violence, or revolution, led to the gradual emancipation of slaves. They succeeded in lightening the chain, in causing it to relax its hold day by day, till it fell harmless from the limbs of the captives.

Their first step toward manumission was to Christianize the slave, to emancipate him from the thraldom of his passions and the darkness of error, and to admit him to the glorious liberty of a child of God. Before his elevation to the Papacy, and while yet a monk, Gregory the Great, in walking through the streets of Rome, observed a number of slaves exposed for sale in the marketplace. Struck by their fair complexion and long flaxen hair, he heaved a deep sigh and remarked: “What a pity that persons of such exterior beauty should not be interiorly enlightened with the illumination of faith and adorned with the gifts of grace!" He then asked who they were and whence they came. “They are Angles" (or English), was the reply. “They are well named,” he quaintly added, "for they have the faces of angels. They must become the brethren of the angels in heaven.” This anecdote shows that their conversion was the first and dominant wish of Gregory's heart. He wished them to enjoy “the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free;" for he well knew that spiritual bondage is far more galling than chains of iron, and that Christian liberty is the best preparation for civil emancipation. But while solicitous for the conversion, Gregory was equally zealous for the enfranchisement of the slave, as his history beautifully demonstrates. The conduct of Gregory outlines the policy of the Pontiffs that have succeeded him.

1 Bede, ii. 1.

In the next place, the Christian missionary cheered the heart of the converted slave by giving a prominent place to those virtues that had hitherto been deemed mean, contemptible, and unworthy of a freeman. The virtues appreciated and extolled by the Pagan world as the ideal of human perfection were courage, fortitude, magnanimity, self-reliance, and all such as are calculated to excite the admiration and win the applause of the populace. But poverty of spirit, humility and meekness under contempt, patience and resig. nation under affronts, forgiveness of injuries and love of enemies, a spirit of obedience and long-suffering, were despised by them as servile virtues, or rather as no virtues at all, but the base characteristics of an enslaved and ignoble caste.

The founder of the Christian religion set His royal seal on these despised virtues and proclaimed their true value, so that henceforth they passed current among the faithful as the most precious medium of communication, enriching souls and purchasing the kingdom of heaven. He taught them these virtues by word and example from Bethlehem to Calvary.

The wretched hovel of the slave was no longer degrading to him when he reflected that the Son of Man had not where to lay His head. He had comfort in his bondage seeing that the Lord of heaven humbled Himself, "taking the form of a slave." How could manual labor be degrading to him when he learned that his Divine Master had for several years worked as an artisan? How could obedience be any longer intolerable to him, since his Lord had become for his sake "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross!” Neither could chains nor stripes rob him of his peace of mind, when he remembered that his Master bore them at the pillory. It is a great alleviation to a captive people for a prince voluntarily to share their miseries; and, above all, are they consoled when conscious that their future recompense will be proportioned to their present sufferings if borne with Christian patience.

The Apostle of the Gentiles frequently comforts the Christian slave by reminding him of the true source of moral grandeur. He tells him that true dignity does not depend on the accident of birth, or wealth, or civil freedom, or social station, but that virtue

i Gal. iv. 31.


is the sole standard of moral excellence in the sight of God, as well as the sole test of future retribution. He informs the slave that he has a soul as well as Cæsar; that he is the child of God by adoption, the brother of Christ, and a member of His mystical body; and that he has equal privileges with the freeman to a participation in the Divine Spirit. “In one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free." In the family of Christ to which they belong "there is neither Gentile nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all and in all."? No wonder that the slave took heart on listening to revelations so cheering,

Again, the Church contributed largely to the moral elevation of the slave by levelling all distinctions between bond and free in her temples and religious assemblies. As soon as the slave entered the place of worship he breathed the air of liberty. He possessed every privilege accorded to the freeman. He was admitted to an equal participation in the Sacraments of the Church. He was baptized at the same font. He sat side by side with his master at the Agape, and joined with him in the public prayers? In the penitential discipline of the Church there was no class distinction. The Christian master who had no punishment to fear from the State for scourging his slave to death, was, if guilty of such a crime, debarred by the ecclesiastical law from Holy Communion.' The slave was admitted into the ranks of the clergy, though before taking Orders he was redeemed from bondage, as none but freemen served at the altar. In a Council held in Rome, in 597, under Pope Gregory, it was decreed that freedom should be granted to slaves that wished to embrace the monastic state. The applicants, however, were not indiscriminately received, for wise precautions were taken to ascertain the sincerity of their vocation."

Not only were slaves permitted to join in the public offices of the Church and in the reception of the Sacraments, not only were they raised to the ranks of the clergy, but many of them who had died for Christ were honored in Christian sanctuaries as saints and martyrs, and even had temples erected to their honor. The names of Blandina, Potamiena, Eutyches, Victorinus, Nereus, and numerous others, are enrolled in our Martyrology. The most stately Byzantine church in Ravenna is dedicated to a martyred slave.6

The Church taught the slave and the master their reciprocal duties toward each other, prescribing laws that exercised a salutary restraint on the authority of the one and sanctified the obedience of the other. “Servants," says St. Paul, “ be obedient to


1 I. Cor. xii. 13.
3 Hist, of Europ. Morals, ii. 66.
6 Balmez, pp. 109 and 437.

3 Colloss, iii, il.
• Ibid., p. 67.
6 Lecky, ii. 69.

your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the simplicity of your heart, as to Christ. Not serving to the eye as pleasing men, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. . . . . Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man shall do, the same shall he receive from the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And you, masters, do the same things to them, forbearing threatenings, knowing that the Lord both of them and you is in Heaven; and there is no respect of persons with Him."1

St. Paul in his touching letter to Philemon, while fully recognizing the claims of the master, exhorts him to receive Onesimus not only as his slave, but also as his brother in Christ; and while pleading for the slave, he does not exempt him from the lawful service he owes to his master.

This brief Epistle of twenty-five verses has served as a guiding principle to the Church in her solution of the slave problem ; and it has contributed more to alleviate the miseries of humanity than all the moral treatises of the most philanthropic of Pagan philosophers.

Perhaps the most substantial service rendered by the Church to the slaves was the recognition of their marriage-tie as valid and indissoluble, and not as mere concubinage such as Paganism regarded it. Pope Adrian I., in the eighth century, uses the following language: “According to the words of the Apostles, as in Jesus Christ, we ought not to deprive either slaves or freemen of the Sacraments of the Church, so it is not allowed in any way to prevent the marriage of slaves; and if their marriages have been contracted in spite of the opposition of their masters, they ought nevertheless not to be dissolved in any way."

And St. Thomas maintains that slaves are not bound to obey their masters in regard to the contracting of marriage.

In upholding the moral dignity and prerogatives of the slave, the Church was striking a blow for his civil freedom. Though she was not charged with the framing of the civil laws, she moved the hearts of the slave-owners by moral suasion, and she moulded the conscience of the legislators by an appeal to the innate rights of man. Thus, as snow melts before the sun, slavery yielded to the genial rays of the Gospel.

As a pious incentive to emancipation, it was ordained that the ceremony of manumission should be celebrated in the church on festival days, especially on Easter Sunday, and the slave-owners were admonished that the manumission of the slave was an act well calculated to conciliate the clemency of Heaven.



2 De Conjug. Serv., lib. iv. tom. 9, c. I.

Eph. vi. 5-9. 8 2*, 2*, Quæs. 104, art. 5.


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