« PreviousContinue »
service only. But the important inquiry immediately arises, where are the types or figures from which these free descriptions are copied to be found? For it should be specially noticed and remembered, that these types must have existed before the descriptions did, and been free also, because a free description can no more be taken from a slave type, than a slavish description can from a free type-every typical description in the Scriptures corresponds in its nature with its type. I answer, that the types or figures here sought after are these same Patriarchal and Hebrew servitudes, the nature of which is so much controverted, because all the types referred to in the New Testament are contained in the Levitical law and the lives of the Patriarchs, and nowhere else, and no other types suited to these descriptions except servitudes are to be found in either. But as these descriptions are all free, so these typical servitudes from which they are copied must have been free also. According to the descriptive testimony of the New Testament, therefore, all those servitudes were free and voluntary, and both Testaments thus far completely harmonized.
Nothing in this plain and decisive testimony ought to surprise us as strange or uncommon, because we ourselves, in common with the people of most other modern nations, customarily and familiarly use the same words “buy” and “sell” to describe free and voluntary service. Thus, we customarily say with respect to town or parish paupers, that they are “ to be sold." We always customarily mean thereby, that their support and maintenance are to be sold to the lowest bidder. So we say figuratively from custom respecting poor foreign immigrants, that they are “sold,” or that they “sell themselves” to pay for their passages. We always customarily and really mean by these expressions that they agree beforehand to let themselves out to labor after their arrival, in payment of the money advanced by their employers to pay for their passage ; it being especially to be noticed in this connection and remembered by the reader, that the immigrants in this case receive the pay for the labor before the same is to be performed. With a similar meaning we customarily say of venal politicians, that they “sell themselves,” and are “ bought" or "purchased” by their employers or patrons-nobody being in the least deceived in any of these cases by the use of this phraseology, into a false belief that slavish service was intended by it, or that the kinds of service described were not entirely free
and voluntary. So where people are deceived and their interests betrayed by their representatives or public confidential agents, the same kind of phraseology is sometimes employed the more forcibly to express the baseness of the supposed treachery, or the greatness of the injury sustained. The histories of the revolution tell us that Benedict Arnold was “bought” by British gold, and that Williams, Paulding and Van Wart could not be bought by Major André. When a northern clergyman marries a rich southern widow, country gossip thus hits off the indecency: “The cotton bags bought him.” Sir Robert Walpole said, “every man has his price, and whoever will pay it, can buy him,” and John Randolph said, “ The Northern delegation is in the market; give me money enough and I can buy them.” The temperance publications tell us that candidates for office buy men with whiskey. The same, or corresponding words and phrases, are employed for various purposes in other parts of the Scriptures, but generally to describe certain other free and voluntary customs of the ancient oriental nations. See Gen. xxix. 15–29, xxxiv. 11, 12; Ex. XX. 7, 11, xxii. 17, xxxiv. 20; Lev. xxvii. 248; Numb. xviii. 15, 16; Deut. 'xxii. 28, 29; Judg. i. 12, 13, ii. 14, iii. 8, iv. 2; Ruth iv. 10; 1 Sam. xviii. 25, 27; Hosea iii. 2, &c. I shall hereafter have occasion to remark
the nature of the ancient Hebrew free custom, of buying and "selling” Hebrew wives, wards, and children.
From the premises already stated it clearly appears that TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT MODES OR Ways of buying and selling people, the one free and voluntary, and the other slavish, are plainly described in the Scriptures as having been in customary use among the ancients, just as they now are among the moderns. The real controversy between the Bible advocates of slavery and their opponents then is as follows, namely: Were the ancient Patriarchal and Hebrew servitudes in controversy, slavish or otherwise ? Were Abraham's servants, said to have been “bought with his money,” free servants or slaves ? Were the Levitical servants who were said to “sell themselves," and to be bought by their masters, and to be “their money,” free and voluntary servants, or were they slaves and property? These important inquiries form the only material issue now in controversy, and since it has been shown that the mere scriptural employment and use of the foregoing words and phrases proves nothing definite and certain in relation to it, and does nothing towards settling the merits of the controversy, the same must be decided and determined as in other similar cases, by the subject matter of the narrative, by the context, and by the whole general description of the actual condition of those servants, all taken in connection with those words and phrases. Several other subordinate controverted matters will arise for consideration in our progress, such as, Whether the Levitical law justified any form or degree of human oppression ? Whether the Holy Prophets did the same ? Whether Christ and his Apostles connived at and sanctioned heathen Greek and Roman slavery ? &c. But the principal true material issue attending the whole controversy is that above stated.
KEY TO THE INQUIRY.
PREPARATORY to the further investigation of this important subject, it is proper for the reader to understand and become skilled in the use of what I call the Key to the Inquiry, which said “Key” consists in the critical examination and comparison of several passages in the Scriptures, in which the foregoing words and phrases are used to describe two different kinds of human service, a few specimens of which are as follows. The first specimen is the comparison of Gen. xvii. 12, 13, 23, 27, with Acts xx. 28; 1 Cor. vi. 20, vii. 23. In each of these cases the servants are said to have been “ bought,” or “purchased” (and of course were “sold”)—in the first case “ with money,” and in the other “with blood,” and “with a price." By any rule of critical reasoning or construction whatever, if the mere use of those words and phrases alone is to decide that Abraham and the other Patriarchs were slaveholders, then the same use decides that Christ and his Apostles were slaveholders also, owning and treating their own converts as property or slaves, and possessing the equal character and qualities of slaveholders both ancient and modern, as much as Abraham and the other Patriarchs can be supposed to have done. Thus if it be argued that property is commonly “bought” with property, and that “money” is property, so also is "blood" and “a price," property in common estimation, as much so as money is. But the supposition or notion of our Saviour and his Apostles being slaveholders, and their converts being their slaves, is too absurd and wicked for intelligent belief. This specimen is therefore a comparison of free service with free service, which is so much plainer as the one kind was the type of the other.
The second specimen is the critical comparison of the case recorded in Gen. xxxvii. 28, 36, with that recorded in Gen. xlvii. 19, 26, as follows:
From the human sale recorded in Gen. xxxvii., we learn the following particulars.
1st. That the person sold (Joseph) was thus treated without his consent and against his will.
2d. That he was no party to the bargain or contract by which he was sold, any more than a beast or other article of property is.
3d. That he received no part of the price, consideration or compensation (twenty pieces of silver), for which he was sold, any more than a beast or other article of property does.
4th. That the effect of the sale was to convert him into an article of property, as suitable for subsequent traffic and merchandise in, as beasts and other kinds of property are.
5th. That according to Gen. xlii. 21, 22, this transaction is represented to have been so great a crime or sin, as to be deserving of death by the laws of nature.
From the human sale recorded in Gen. xlvii., we learn,
1st. That the persons sold (the Egyptians) were thus treated at their own earnest request.
2d. That they “sold themselves," and alone made the whole contract with the purchaser.
3d. That they themselves received the whole of the price, consideration or compensation (support during the years of famine) given on the contract for their sale.
4th. That the effect of the whole transaction was to render
them tenants at a very reasonable rent, but otherwise to leave them just as free in all other respects as they were before.
5th. That according to the Scripture account of it, the whole transaction was perfectly moral and virtuous in its own nature, and just as free and equal as common leasing and hiring now are.
Here then are two scriptural accounts in the same book, of two different purchases and sales of human beings, both entirely opposite to each other in their moral and political nature, effects and consequences. In the first case, the word “sold” is used, and “bought” understood, because there cannot be a sale without a purchase. While in the second, the word “bought” is used, and “sold” understood, because there cannot be a purchase without a “sale." This specimen then is a comparison of a slave sale, with a voluntary sale of free service. The critical reader will also remark that in the latter case quoted from Gen. xlvii., the Egyptians who “sold themselves” received their pay before their services were to commence or be rendered, just as poor foreigners said to be “sold to pay their passage” receive it now; whereas the "hired servants” mentioned in the Levitical law did not receive their pay until after their work was performed, as most hirelings now do, which is the only material distinction made in the Scriptures between bought and hired servants, both kinds being in all other respects equally free, voluntary and privileged. We make the same necessary inference respecting the payment of the ancient “ bought” Hebrew servants, from the descriptions contained in such passages as Lev. xxvi. 49; Neh. v.5, &c. We also infer that these bought servants might freely hold property of their own, a right wholly incompatible with the condition of slavery. From Lev. xxv. 47; Neh. v. 8, &c., we also learn that this free custom of purchasing servants of themselves in payment of previous debts contracted by them, was general throughout the ancient oriental countries.
The last specimen I shall offer is the critical comparison of Ex. xxi. 16, and Deut. xxiv. 7, with 1 Kings xxi. 20, 25; 2 Kings xvii. 17; Isa. 1. 1, lii. 3; Rom. vii. 14; 2 Pet. ii. 1-3, &c., by which, from the light furnished by the comparison just made, similar inferences will be easily and readily drawn; the same being also a comparison of slave kidnapping, and slave selling and holding, with free and voluntary service figuratively described. From the descriptions in the passages quoted it is certain, that