Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

bored before the judges and agreeing to remain until the next semi-centennial jubilee.

• But what was the Hebrew bond service instituted for ? Was it not founded on the same reason as slavery? Was it not indeed slavery for six years ? No. The end proposed was to bring in heathen and convert them to God. If a servant relapsed into heathenism, his wife and children whom he had obtained while in service, he could not compel to follow him into idolatry and wretchedness. If they remained steadfast in the true religion; he might redeem himself as soon as he was able without waiting for the jubilee ; and he was, at all events free when jubilee came. For in that year, Hebrew bondmen, foreign servants, circumcised, earbored servants and all went free. Lev. xxv, 10.

The Jews were few land-holders, each land-holder owning a great tract, and each head

man was a priest-prince or sheik-a sheik is sort of a head of families who unites the sacred and civil characters of priest and magistrate in his own person.

These heads of tribes, called “ elders” were general heads of families like Boaz the husband of Ruth. And their clan was their “ house-hold,” in registering which, the grandson is frequently called the son ; indeed, the descendants generally, were called children, and the head man the father, or prince. Such was the patriarchal state. If a servant at the end of six years was unwilling to leave his master, he was obliged to take his master before the judge and make that declaration in his presence. His ear was then bored, and he staid with his master till the fifty-years jubilee. The mass of servants were iebrews by birth, and their servitude of course was only six years. Those who were bought from the heathen became Hebrews by circumcision, and were reckoned

among

the Hebrews;" from that time. In consequence of this they came under the law of six years. The little remnant of ear-bored servants went free at the jubilee ; but the great mass went free in six years.

In object and effect it appears, that the Mosaic law of bond

says Jahn, “

service was a sort of missionary mill, to take up the servants of the heathen and grind them into children of God. A system of moral screw-blocks and pulleys, to elevate the heathen from their abject degradation, sunk to the lowest pitch by their worship of idols, to the pure and holy and elevated worship and service of the true God.

Is that system to be quoted here as authority for American slavery, which lays stripes on the back of a slave if he but teach his child to read the sacred name of Jesus?

Moreover, there was in Judea one manner of law for the stanger and him born in the land. But, you recollect, that in the Mississippi criminal code, an article reads thus, " The provisions of this act (the criminal code, condensed into 344 sections,) shall not be construed to apply to slaves.” The same law, in principle, was adopted in Kentucky in 1802. The slave is, therefore, left under the brute's criminal code, to be whipped, sold, or killed, as the owner's exigencies may demand. But the Hebrew bond-servant had the same criminal law, the same judge, and the same free access to courts of justice, as his master had. The judges held their courts in the gates of all the cities and towns through which the population passed every morning and evening. In David's time, there were six thousand of these judges! See what ample provision they had for the administration of justice! You will read it in Chronicles xxiii, 4.

The people brought their causes before these judges, in person, as heretofore said, without intervention of advocate or jury. And before the manners of the people were corrupted, the men who were made judges were those most distinguished for wisdom, piety, and integrity. Job was one of these judges, as is evident, from his speaking of himself as“ rising up to go to the gate.” This wise, and cheap, and equitable administration of justice existed among a people who were better instructed in their laws, perhaps, than any other nation in any age: who, by the appointment of God, wrote their statutes upon the posts of their doors, the borders of their garments, and the frontiets of their foreheads. Judicial proceedings were all summary, as upon the complaints of orphans in the courts of Kentucky. And Horne informs us, in his “ Introduction to the Study of the Scriptures," where the matters above are explained in detail; “ The Hebrew bendmen were required to be instructed in the laws, on the sabbaths and feast-days, equally with the rest of the inhabitants;" while our slaves are forbidden the language in which the laws are written--and, while slaves can never appear in courts as parties, or witnesses in their own case, the Hebrew bondmen had free access to the person of the judge, and brought their own suits in person, as the harlots came to king Solomon, and the woman deputed by Joab, for restoring Absalom, came to king David.

Thus the poorest poor, the meanest bondman in the whole land, if cruelly treated, could come at once to the judge, lodge his complaint; and the judge at once despatched an officer with him to bring the person whom he accused before him for judgment. The case between them was then heard and summarily determined by judges, subject to an immediate appeal to God, who had denounced and executed the direst judgments upon those who perverted the cause of the poor while sitting in the place of judgment.

Now to say that the condition of men, so circumstanced, was slavery, and, on the strength of such averment, to build the assumption, that “God permitted his people to hold slaves," betrays an entire want of acquaintance with the facts; or a total misapprehension of the bearing and connection of those facts with the principles and elements of civil and personal liberty; or, what is equally deplorable, an utter ignorance of the nature of human rights, and of liberty itself.

Behold, by contrasting the two, the exceeding unfairness of making the elevating and enlightening Hebrew bondservice, a justification and precedent for American slavery.

Moses instituted this legal bond service in an age when absoluteism was the rule in all civil and ecclesiastical matters. At the present day, in enlightened countries, liberty is the

rule and restriction the exception. Moses brought men a step forward from an age of darkness toward one of light. Slavery takes society backward to maxims and principles which belong to an age of darkness. In other words, Hebrew bond service brought the race forward; slavery takes it backward.

You will, by an illustration, perceive the incongruity and unfairness of quoting the few restrictions which Mosaic bond service imposed on Hebrew servants, all of which were made necessary by merciful reasons in existing circumstances, to justify the entire deprivation of rights by American slavery, by chattelizing human beings, which no circumstances can make necessary, and against the spirit of surrounding institutions.

Suppose you had a family to rear in a prison-city.; and your yard was environed by other yards occupied by culprits, and men confined as such; the jail-yard on one side, the State's-prison-yard bounding you on another, the workhouse on the third, and house of correction on the fourth.To rear and conduct a family under such environment, many restrictions and impositions would be requisite, for security and morals, which would be arbitrary and impious, even, to lay upon the members of your household in a city like this we inhabit. And yet, to bring the restraints imposed upon a pious household, in the midst of a prison-city, to excuse parental cruelty, is a poor and weak incongruity and absurdity, compared with fetching Mosaic bond service to screen and justify American slavery. For in the supposed case, the spirit and object of the two families are the same, while their circumstances are opposite. But Hebrew bond service, and slavery have no one principle in common. The difference between them is the difference between taking fifty prisoners, in the midst of a vast prison, and, leaving some of the prison regulations unrepealed, yet putting your fifty into a system where they instantly ccase to be prisoners, and gradually become perfectly free—and taking a class of persons and making them prisoners in the centre of a free population. Moses

legislated when the world was a prison, and his laws made Judea a free State, in the midst of it. Slavery legislates in the heart of Christendom, and every spot which it regulates is a bastile. Moses was environed with slave States, and produced and conducted a free State in their midst. Slavery is surrounded by free States, whose polity it is all the while mastering and moulding to its own. In the Hebrew system, the utmost that can be said is, that Moses did not take away all restraints, which the world had imposed on human liberty, at once. Slavery invents and imposes restrictions which did not before exist. Every one knows that the Jews became a free nation. Between the Babylonish captivity and Christ, there is among them no trace of slave, though environed by a world full of slave States. It was the operation of the Mosaic code which made them free. Thus Mosaic bond service took those whom the world had made slaves, i. e., servants “ bought of the heathen," and turned them into freemen. Slavery takes those whom God made free and turns them into slaves! The restrictions of the bond service grew less and less, by its own legitimate operation, till the thing itself faded out and disappeared. Slavery is perpetually increasing its guards and fastenings, the longer it stands, and must do so from its own nature. And the reason is, that Hebrew bond service was a measure for freedom-the slave system a contrivance for despotism.

The friends of temperance in Ohio, are now asking their legislature to take the power licensing dram-bars, from those who now hold and exercise it to the injury of society; and put it into the hands of majorities of the people. The rear son of this movement, is a temperance reason, and the movement itself a step toward destroying the dram-bar system. They hope the people will refuse licenses altogether. Therefore, they vote to place the license power in their own hands. Now if we were seeking to turn dram-sellers out of the church, and a vindicator of dram-bars as “not sinful,” should quote this temperance action in support of their cause, saying: "See the best temperance men in Ohio voted to give majori

« AnteriorContinuar »