« AnteriorContinuar »
force, is one expressly in point, and touches the question at issue. The law of Moses legalized a certain description of slavery among the Jews. Under the dispensation of the Gospel, which immediately succeeded the Mosaic economy, the Apostle established a rule that the civil condition of the slave and his master, by embracing Christianity, was not changed, but that this civil condition of slave and his master was still to continue, even should they both become members of the same church. And the same rule applied to the slave and his master who was converted to the Christian faith, either among the Greeks or the Romans. And the same rule is also applicable to the slave and his master now, in this or any other country.
Hence the New Testament, and especially the apostolic Epistles, abound with directions for the regulation of the conduct of the slave and his master towards each other. Thus, slaves were enjoined, as a necessary part of religion, to obey and serve their masters with all proper respect, fidelity and diligence, not purloining, not answering again, with good will doing service as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing whatsoever good thing any man doeth, that shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. These things, when really believed and duly considered, will have much stronger influence to engage them to a faithful and cheerful discharge of their duty, than mere custom, or the law of the country; for it will be observed, that the Apostle enjoins submission and obedience on the part of the slave to his master, not only as 'a civil, but also as a religious duty. He expressly enjoins this submission and obedience as a necessary part of his religious duty. On the contrary, masters are required to give their slaves that which is just and equal, forbearing threatening, knowing that they have a Master in heaven, and with him there is no respect of persons. These obligations are also bound upon the master, not merely as a civil, but as a religious duty, the observance of which constitutes a necessary part of his obedience to God, Eph. vi. 5, 9;'Col. iii. 22, 25; iv. 1 ; 1 Tim. vi. 1, 8; Titus, ii. 9, 11.)
If these relative duties between the slave and his master were duly observed, the liorrors of slavery would for ever cease. Although it was not the province of Christianity to put a period to the condition of slavery, yet by her wise and humane regulations she has mitigated its evils, and rendered the condition of the slave tolerable.
3. The Apostle Paul entered his strong protest against those who taught a different doctrine from that which we have stated. It was a doctrine of the pharisaic Jews, that proselytes were released from all antecedent, civil, and even natural relations : and it is highly probable that some of the Jewish converts might carry the same principle into the Christian community, and teach that, by the profession of Christianity, slaves were emancipated from their Christian masters. In opposition to this false notion, the same great Apostle required that all who were under the yoke of servitude, be taught to yield due obedience to their masters, and animadverts with great severity upon those false teachers, who from mercenary views, taught a different doctrine. “Let as many slaves as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them pot despise them, because they are brethren, but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man 'teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, 'even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doubting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, and evil surmisings, "perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness : from such withdraw thyself
. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be content therewith.” (1. Tim, vi. 1,8.),
The doctrine which was inculcated by the false teach
ers, and reprobated by the Apostle, appears to be the same as that set forth by the Abolitionists in their “ Declaration." They state in that document, “ That all those laws which are now in force, admitting the right of slavery, are before God utterly null and void.” By this sweeping remark, which is a cardinal doctrine of the Abolitionists, they at a blow cut the slave loose from all the moral and religious obligations of the Bible to obey the master, and charge the master with the crime of man-stealing, which is worthy of death, for detaining him in a condition of servitude. The doctrine of the Abolitionists, and the doctrine of the false teachers in the apostolic age, are the same. They both absolve the slave from all moral and religious obligations of submission and obedience to his master, and they both lead directly on to a civil war. This doctrine excites the prejudice of the slave against his master, and the prejudice of the master against the abolitionist who was the author of the mischief, and who by the propagation of his incendiary doctrine has excited the rebellion of the slave.
The course which has been pursued by the Abolitionists, has already produced those fierce and acrimonious disputes, to which the Apostle alludes in describing the dreadful consequences of the inflammatory doctrine the false teachers propagated in bis day. If these fiery contentions continue to spread as they have commenced, we may well tremble for the fate of our country. It will soon be involved in all the horrors of a civil war-our wives and children will be massacred-our fields will be covered with the slain—and the fairest portions of our country will be drenched in the blood of our fellow-citizens.
I deprecate the measures to which some have resorted to arrest the progress of this false doctrine; they are of a highly dangerous character, and too frequently involve the innocent with the guilty. The Apostle has given us a more excellent rule, and a more effectual mode of arresting the progress of these clerical incendiaries : “From such," says the Apostle, “withdraw thyself.”
Let those societies over whom such pastors preside, that is, pastors who have embraced and are propagating the doctrine of the Abolitionists, or who are secretly abetting and aiding the apostles of this Society, immediately dismiss them. And if the Society neglect, or refuse, to do this, let the minority of the Society do their duty ; let them withdraw from such a man, agreeable to the direction of the Apostle, and refuse their support to such a ministry. The clergy must be taught that the question of slavery, as it exists in this country, is a political and not a religious question, and that it must be settled upon the floor of Congress, and in the halls of legislation, and not in pulpits and ecclesiastical councils. “Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's, and unto God the things that are God's.” Political questions should be decided by political rulers, and religious questions by religious rulers.
If slavery is regarded as a moral and civil evil in this country, the Bible points out the remedy, and the mode by which the freedom of the slaves should be effected. It is by redeeming them with money, by paying a fair equivalent for their value. In this manner the Hebrews freed their kinsmen from bondage, when they were sold as slaves to the surrounding nations. And the same mode was pursued by the primitive Christians. It is supposed that the Apostle alluded to this custom in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, where he asks the question, “Have ye been bought with a price ?” (vii. 23.) That the charity of Christians was employed to buy their brethren out of slavery, we learn from the apologies of Justin Martyr, and Tertullian, who tells us“ that the offerings of Christians at the Sacrament, were amongst others employed for that use.' In this way Christians may exercise their benevolence without invading the rights of individuals, or disturbing the public tranquillity.