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4, &c. No one ever thinks of doubting the truth of these figurative allusions in favor of anything else but human slavery.
But, as has been already remarked, since these New Testament descriptions are of free and voluntary service only, the types or figures from which they were taken must have been of similar free service, because a free description cannot be taken from a slavish type. It is impossible therefore that any of the Old Testament purchases and sales of human beings should have been of a slavish nature, unless, as in the case of the sale of Joseph by his brethren, the subject matter and the general description together both combine to show clearly that such was the fact. For these reasons it is perfectly clear from the whole tenor of the Scriptures, that none of the ancient Hebrew servants were any more sold into involuntary service or slavery, than Christian converts were as such ever reduced to that condition by their Christian conversion both kinds of these servitudes being perfectly free and vol. untary.
CHAPTER X VII,
PRO-SLAVERY PERVERSIONS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
(Continued.) Examination of Matt. xviii. 23, 25, xxii. 27; Rom. xiii. 1-7; Titus iii. 1 ;
1 Pet. ii. 13. It is impossible that the case recorded in Matt. xviii. 23, 25, should have been a slave sale or even a figurative description of one, because it
appears from the 24th verse of the same chapter that the servant spoken of “ owed” his master, which was impossible if he were a slave, because by the laws of human slavery, both ancient and modern, a slave could no more owe his master, than a beast or other article of property could. By the law of God, by the common law, and by every other just code of laws in the world, every slaveholder justly owes his slave, and not the latter him, a doctrine from which the Abolitionists contend that compensation on emancipation is morally and justly due to the slaves alone, and to nobody else, and that from their former masters or
oppressors only. The parable recorded in the passage under consideration, is an allusion to the sales of insolvent debtors under the harsh and oppressive heathen laws of the Roman Empire, the same being in no way similar to any voluntary sales of persons approved in the Old Testament, and was used in this New Testament passage to illustrate the doctrine the Saviour was then inculcating.
Both the letter and spirit of Matt. xxii. 21; Rom. xiii. 1–7; Titus iii. 1; 1 Pet. ii. 13, and similar passages, are for the sake of human slavery most grossly perverted by the advocates of such slavery, to teach a silent acquiescence in, and contented submission to the practice of all such public sins as are legalized by wicked human governments. From the doctrine promulgated in Rom. xiii. 1—7, and many corresponding passages, it is certain that human governments of every name and form are of divine appointment and authority, and are to be respected and obeyed as such. But such governments and their abuses being moral and political opposites, the doctrine gives no moral license, and imposes no moral duty whatever, to respect and support the abuses, the perversions, and the corruptions of such governments, for the administration of the latter must be morally righteous and good, to warrant the voluntary support of them as a moral duty in any case whatever, because we are directed to avoid all sin and the support of all sinful agents and agencies. Not that the Scriptures do not make a just distinction between forms of human government, because they plainly teach a preference of the republican form over all others. But they also teach, that God will own and bless any other form of government that is righteously and wisely administered, and also, that He will disown and curse any form, even the republican, that is perverted and abused to be the shield and protector of public sins—and as the same Scriptures also teach, that as far as we are capable, we are morally bound to imitate God as the first and greatest rule of moral duty, so we are morally bound to oppose all governmental abuses and corruptions whatever, without regard to modes and forms.
The whole of this Scriptural teaching exactly corresponds with the great Law of Nature, because our own common sense teaches us that one form or mode of government is no better than another, except as it is less liable to abuse. But the advocates of human slavery contend in its behalf, that we are morally bound by the
instructions of the passages under consideration, voluntarily to support all the errors, abuses, perversions and corruptions of human governments, legalized human slavery among the rest, and never attempt to use even moral means to counteract and destroy, or reform it.
But this kind of sophistry must be very difficult to support by argument, for on the supposition that it is true doctrine, Christ and his Apostles and disciples were morally bound to justify and support their own persecutors, instead of blaming and condemning them as they did, because all the persecutions they suffered were legalized by human governments. This slavish doctrine must be heretical in every respect. Thus, human life and faculties, as well as human governments, are also of divine appointment and authority, and we are directed in the Scriptures to preserve and support and employ them properly, but it must be highly sinful in us to justify and support their abuses, because the latter are highly sinful.
Besides, we are directly and repeatedly taught in the Scriptures, both by precept and example, that where the laws and customs of men conflict with the law of God, we are morally bound to obey the latter, though the consequences be a necessary violation of the former, see Ex. xxiii. 2; Acts iv. 19, v. 29, and numerous corroborative passages ; a doctrine fully illustrated and confirmed by the voluntary and consistent example of all the Bible preachers, the whole of whom were persecuted and most of them put to death, for their voluntary violation of wicked human laws and customs: Nothing can be morally and politically more reasonable than this conduct, or in other words more agreeable to the Law of Nature, because, though human governments are divinely authorized, yet their abuses and corruptions are not, and are therefore entitled to no voluntary respect and support. It is remarkable that in the passages now under consideration we are commanded not to obey human governments and laws, but to submit to, or be subject to them, and that for the Lord's sake and not theirs. If therefore we violate wicked human laws, but voluntarily and peaceably submit to their penalties inflicted for the violation, we as truly remain subject or submissive to them, as if we obeyed their requirements. From these plain premises it clearly appears, that the subjection inculcated in Rom. xiii. 1—7, &c., really means, voluntary obedience to all human laws and customs that are
morally good, and voluntary submission to the penalties prescribed for the violation of all those that are morally bad, see Daniel iii. 6, &c.
This reasonable construction harmonizes with the entire teaching of the Scriptures on the subject, which the opposite proslavery construction entirely destroys. It is a doctrine of the Scriptures too plain to be innocently misunderstood, that wherever we find the laws and customs of men conflict with the law of God, we are morally bound to violate the former in obedience to the latter. Others carry the perversion still further, and maintain that because we are morally bound peaceably to submit to these wicked penalties, at least unless we can peaceably avoid their infliction, and because we have no moral right to resist their infliction by physical force, therefore the wickedest human governments have a moral or divine right to legalize and enforce those penalties. But this pretence must also be a rank and dangerous heresy, because, if it be true doctrine, where is the moral guilt of legalized persecution for righteousness' sake, so severely condemned in the Scriptures ? Why condemn such persecution at all, if wicked human governments have a moral right to inflict it? Besides, though the wicked relations of men are never regulated, but always condemned in the Scriptures, yet the behavior of innocent persons wrongfully subjected to them frequently is regulated, both by precept and example, see Ex. xxii. 4; Prov. xx. 22, xxiv. 29; Matt. v. 39—44; Rom. xii. 17, 20, &c., and yet, so far from any license being granted in these passages to inflict the wrongs submitted to, we are assured in the same passages that God himself will avenge or punish them. Patient submission to oppression and other evil treatment is, according to the same and numerous corresponding passages, a moral duty which the oppressed and persecuted owe to God, and not to their oppressors, who persecute and oppress them. Were the doctrine otherwise, all who persecute and abuse their fellow-men “for righteousness sake” are, contrary to the plain teaching of the Scriptures, morally justified in such wickedness, so that even those who persecuted and put to death the Prophets, Apostles and martyrs, discharged none but their moral duty in so doing, and deserve praise instead of censure for such meritorious deeds!