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PRO SLAVERY PERVERSIONS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
(Continued.) Examination of Eph. vi. 5—9; Col. iii. 22–25, iv, 1; Titus ii. 9, 10; 1 Tim.
vi. 1; 1 Pet. ii. 18—20. The Greek words used in these passages for servants are douloi, plural of doulos, and oiketai, plural of oiketes, and for “masters," kurioi, plural of kurios, and despotai, plural of despotes-each couplet having apparently little or no distinction of meaning. Like our English word “servants,” the two former never mean “slaves,” whose technical Greek name as we have seen is andrapoda, unless the context and subject-matter show that fact—nor do the two latter ever mean “slaveholders," whose technical Greek word is andrapodistai, except where the same evidence proves that meaning. Thus the Apostles were not property or slaves in any sense, though each of them styled himself a servant" (doulos) of Jesus Christ his “master” (kurios) who certainly was not a slaveholder in any sense, see Luke ii. 29; Acts ii. 18; Rom. i. 1; Phil. i. 1; Titus i. 1; James i. 1; 2 Pet. i. 1, &c., nor are those words ever used in the New Testament, in connection with any slavish regulations or directions. On the contrary, though the best directions are given in that volume for the good regulation of the ordinary FREE relation of master and servant, it cannot be possible they were intended to regulate the relation of master and slave, for if obeyed they would be sure to destroy the latter relation itself, contrary to the intent of all such regulations, which are always provided for their support and not their injury. Thus the simple direction given in Eph. vi. 9; Col. iv. 1; Philemon, 16th verse, would, if literally obeyed by all slaveholders, put a final and total end to their slaveholding rights and authority in a single day. Now we cannot honestly and innocently believe or suppose, that God would provide regulations for the intended support and benefit of any relation whatever, which He foreknew would if obeyed certainly overthrow and destroy it!! It must be highly wicked to imagine
God capable of such folly. It is possible that the directions contained in Eph. vi. 5—8, were intended to apply to the cases of all servants alike, to that of slaves among the rest, because, according to the spirit of Matt. v. 39—44; Rom. xii. 17, 20, &c., it is the moral duty of slaves and other oppressed persons who cannot peaceably avoid their unhappy condition, patiently to submit to their hard fate, leaving the punishment of their oppressors to God, who will be sure to inflict it, because he has promised to do so.
But we should remember that these directions are accompanied by others to the masters, which if obeyed will be sure to terminate the relation, so that the whole directions taken together must have been intended to destroy slavery, because their joint effect is entirely antagonistical and hostile to the practice. The same passages also teach us, that whenever we address slaves on the subject of their moral duty in that condition, we should also address the masters on their moral duty in relation to their slaves, which according to the spirit of the passages, as well as that of the whole Scriptures, clearly is, to treat their slaves in all respects as freemen or free and voluntary servants, by allowing and respecting all their natural rights, which will of course terminate their enslavement. It is remarkable also that the duties of servants inculcated in the passages under consideration, are represented in them as due to God and not to man, from which circumstance I strongly suspect their directions were intended for slaves, more than for any other class of servants, especially as Asia Minor, in which Ephesus was situated, abounded in slaves. Similar directions, and for similar reasons, are also given to all classes of servants and masters in Col. iii. 22, 25, iv. 1; Colosse being also a city of Asia Minor. Similar remarks are also in all respects applicable to the directions contained in Titus ii. 9, 10; 1 Pet. ii. 18—20, perfect obedience to which is sure instantly to destroy the practice of slavery, which effect was doubtless one of their principal objects. It is certainly very remarkable, that the principal, if not the only motive from which servants of all classes are required to act, is obedience to the will of God, and a desire that his name and religion might receive honor and credit, in which motive slaves as well as others ought to participate, though they owe no moral duty of slavish service on account of their masters or owners.
I have no doubt whatever that the servants under the yoke,"
addressed in 1st Tim. vi. 1, 2, were real slaves, because the Roman ceremony of passing prisoners of war under the yoke, was used in token of their conversion into property or slaves, whence the figurative phrase “under the yoke” denoted their condition as such. As this was a pure heathen custom there could have been no intention to approbate it in this passage, though the latter is otherwise worthy of very critical attention.
We observe from the language of the passage, that these servants or slaves were directed to honor their heathen masters, not from any regard to the latter as deserving such respect, but from a much higher and more important motive, namely,—"that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed," or in other words, that profane cursing, and swearing, and hatred of others, might be avoided, the same being the violation of the Third Commandment, most common among discontented slaves as well as among their idle and dissipated masters, especially when irritated. This passage was intended to regulate the behavior of servants, indeed, as the directions in Matt. v. 39–44; Rom. xii. 14, 1921, &c., were that of oppressed persons in general, but it furnished no more moral justification or license to slavery, than these latter passages did to religious or other persecution for righteousness sake-a distinction readily understood in every other case except that of slavery. As additional evidence that the apostle had no design to regulate the practice of human slavery by these directions it is very remarkable that he gave no directions to masters at all in the passage, no doubt, for one very sufficient reason, that they held a sinful relation to their slaves which he had no moral right to countenance, which he could hardly faid to do by addressing them after such directions to their slaves. Thus, this and the preceding passages, which have been reviewed in this chapter, instead of being pro-slavery as so many contend, are directly the reverse, because they have the strongest anti-slavery
, tendency and effect.
From the phraseology “believing masters," which occurs in the passage last criticised, it has been sagaciously inferred in behalf of slavery, that Paul fellowshipped slaveholders, not only as Christian brethren, but as members of the Christian church, and thus morally countenanced the practice of human slavery. There is no doubt that some slaveholders, as well as other heathen, were Bonverted by the preaching of this apostle, and remained such
until they became convinced of the sinfulness of their slaveholding relations, but there is no evidence in this passage, or anywhere else, that Paul or the other apostles ever received them into church membership, before they discovered the sinfulness of slavery and renounced the practice of it. We see from his Epistles to the Corinthians, Galatians, and others, that the great apostlə to the gentiles had an immense deal of trouble with his new heathen converts, to wean them from the wicked heathen practices to which they have been so long customarily addicted, but we have no evidence that he admitted them to Christian church membership till they renounced those practices; while from the well known historical fact, that the early progress of Christianity destroyed the practice of human slavery, wherever the Christian doctrines were preached in their purity, the strong presumption is that he did not. There is no probability that the apostles fellowshipped persons as church members, who lived in the customary practice of sins and crimes condemned in their epistles, because we see from such passages as 2 Cor. vi. 14, 17, &c., that they excommunicated such persons and directed the other church members to shun their company. Why should they receive persons into church membership beforehand, whom they were sure, or almost sure, to excommunicate afterwards? We see from the principal passage, that there was great danger that the converted slaves would despise the converted owners, and why? Because the latter were a disgrace to the new religion they professed to have been converted to, and why? Because, although they had been converted to the true religion, they remained in the practice of a great sin utterly condemned by that religion, to the great disgrace of the latter, as well as injustice and injury to the slaves. Under such circumstances, nothing could be more necessary and proper than the directions of the apostles to these slaves, in order to prevent them as well as their masters disgracing the same holy religion. For these reasons I would just as soon believe that the same apostle, who, in 1 Tim. i. 9, 10, condemned slaveholders with the same moral severity he did the worst of other criminals, admitted the latter to church membership while living in the customary practice of their former sins, as that he admitted slaveholders to the same privilege while living in the practice of slavery. I would just as soon believe that this apostle continued a perse
cutor after his own conversion, as to believe in this pro-slavery pretence. It is certain that Paul had a great deal of difficulty, sorrow, and trouble, with his new converts from heathenism, on account of their idolatrous and other evil heathen habits, but he never, knowingly, admitted any of them to church fellowship and Christian communion until they had renounced those habits. The reception of new converts to church privileges is predicated in the New Testament on the entire change in their former evil sentiments and practices, testified to by their voluntary obedience to the commands of Christ, and manifestation of good works, as evidence of their genuine conversion, as is clear from such passages as Matt. iii. 8, 10, viii. 16, 20, xii, 33 ; John v. 29 ; Rom. ii. 6; 1 Cor. v. 1, 5, 9; 2 Cor. v. 10; Col. iii. 5—9; 1 John iii. 18, &c. The apostles being at all times under the immediate guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit of God, could never have knowingly violated the plain rule in their church organization, government, and discipline.
It is possible, though not at all probable, that the "believing masters” spoken of in this passage, had actually abandoned the practice of slavery. But whether they had or had not, the phrase is used in the sense of similar phraseology, so often occurring in common modern practice, of giving epithets to persons which have characterized their former lives, though radical changes have taken place in their characters and behavior. Thus the phrase “ believing Jew," "converted Infidel,” “reformed drunkard,” &c., similar to the customary scriptural expressions, “the blind see," “the deaf hear,” “the lame walk,” &c., are nothing but nonsense if they be understood as literally true, just as the foregoing phrases must be on the same understanding, because nobody supposes that converted infidels and reformed drunkards retain the vicious practices they have been converted and reformed from. In like manner, it is unreasonable as well as unscriptural to suppose that 6 believing" or converted slaveholders in the apostles' time, continued in the practice of slavery after they discovered the sinfulness of it, though it is highly probable that many of them did before they made that important discovery.