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5. And he that stealeth a man and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death. Ex. xxi, 16.
6. Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him ; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in anywise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath
the loss of the servant's time, for the servant was to him, for the time being, instead of money. This passage is far from asserting what the servant was his master's property, in the same sense in which slaves are supposed to be the master's property by the enslavers of this country; the sense of it is, simply, the servant is to his master instead of money ; he represents, for the time being, his master's money.
5. He shall surely be put to death. And would American Christian enslavers be willing to be judged by this law ? And is there one solitary slave-holder in this nation, who, according to this precept, is not either a man-thief, or a receiver of those who have been stolen ? It does not and cannot alter the case, as to the manner in which one has come into the possession of those human beings whom he claims as his property: if they are found in his hand, this law says he should be put to death.
6. I will surely hear their cry. The people of this land once felt themselves oppressed by the government of Great Britain. At that time they were comparatively poor and defenceless ; but they cried unto the Lord and entreated Him to undertake for them; and now the most sceptical acknowledge that God did hear their cries, and at He did undertake for them against those who oppressed them. And now, who can read these words, and think of the millions of poor slaves who are so cruelly oppressed by this nation, and not tremble in view of the danger to which it must, according to the principles of God's government, be exposed! Are there no orphan children, no afflicted widows, among our millions of slaves, whose cries God, in justice,
stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh ; and they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge ; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants to put a sword in their hand to slay us.
laws declare, under the penalties of whipping, fine, imprisonment, and DEATH, that the slaves must not, and shall not be instructed, lest they should be set free, or by this means obtain their liberty! This is certainly an “evil
Ye havc made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh. So it seems those Israelites diu really find their bondage increased by the very efforts which God and his servants were making to get them free. But Moses did not consider this a sufficient reason why he should cease to plead for their freedom. And shall we, of the present age, forbear to preach the truth because some sinners will not repent? Does it alter the course of our duty, when some “ harden their hearts,” and “wax worse and worse," after they “have received the holy commandment delivered unto them ?" If not, why then should we be so often reproached with having retarded the abolition of slavery in this land? And this is the strongest, and, in fact, about the only objection which many serious and good people can bring against the Anti-Slavery movements of the present day. We try to do something,—they do nothing, except to denounce our means and measures, yet we retard the aholition of slavery! The Lord be judge between us and them.
There can be no doubt that the hearts of many “masters,” in this nation, are now hardened in precisely the same way that Pharaoh's was; and God has just as much agencý in hardening their hearts now, as he ever had in hardening the heart of Pharaoh. God says now, as he has long been doing to them, “ Let these slaves go free!" and they hear this voice of God in the dictates of reason and humanity, they hear it in the precepts of the Bible, and they acknowledge it in the great charter of our national existence; yet they refuse to obey it, and in doing so they harden their hearts.
10. And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, LORD, wherefore hast thou so evil-entreated this people? Why is it that thou hast sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people : neither hast thou de. livered thy people at all. Ex. v, 22.
11. And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD: I have also heard the groan. ing of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage ; and I have remembered my covenant. Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage. Ex. vi, 2.
12. And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel, but they hearkened not unto Moses for an. guish of spirit and for cruel bondage. Ex. vi, 9.
The different kinds of servitude allowed among the
Hebrews. 1. If thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve ; and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. Ex. xxi, 2.
1. We are so much accustomed to think of a man's going to a slave market, and buying servants for a third person, just as he would buy an ox or a horse, that we can hardly imagine any
in which a person should obtain servants with money. But how was it in ancient times, when the Bible was written? Let us look and see what was
the usage, and who it was that sold, when they bought servants.
There was Joseph, who bought the Egyptians for Pharaohi, not with money, but with corn, and they became Pharaoh's servants. Who sold in that case ? They sold themselves. See Gen. ch.47. So it is said to Ahab, • Thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord.” 1 Kings xxi, 20. And in 2 Kings, xvii, 17, it is said the children of Israel “sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord.” So the terms bought and sold are permanently applied to a mutual contract to do service for a compensation. Indeed, I may say, this is the general idea in the Scriptures. “His servants ye
whom ye obey.” In examining the Scriptures it is necessary always to take care and not suffer modern practices to fix images in our minds to exclude the truth.
I ask if there is anything to show that Abraham or any of the patriarchs ever sold a slave ? Did they belong to his estate and descend to his heirs ? What became of them when Jacob went to Padan-Aram, and was a servant him. self for twenty years ? When he returned to Canaan, he had servants himself in large numbers. But we find after that, his sons keeping sheep. Then, after that, he went into Egypt. What became of all those servants ? They were not sold. The truth is, they were voluntary servants, the obligation was at an end, and they remained in their own country.
There is another fact showing the nature of the service that existed in those early days. When the enemy came from Egypt, and took Lot and his neighbors, and all their substance, Abraham determined to pursue after them, and he took 318 of these servants, born in his own house. Is there a slaveholder in the United States who would do this, would arm his slaves to pursue an enemy? Put arms into the hands of involuntary servants, and you may well expect they will use them against their masters. Abraham's servants, therefore, were doubtless voluntary servants, serving him by a contract of their own, whether for wages, or for a living, or for protection. Abraham was then, what many an Arab chief is now, the head of a tribe. The children of Heth understood the institutions of their own time, and they tell us just how it was, when they say to Abraham, “ Hear us, my lord; thou art a mighty prince among us." Genesis xxiii, 6. And as such, he had a large number of followers, who were dependent on him, obeyed him, labored for him, and were protected and supported by him. But it was only a voluntary service. The father of the faithful was not a slaveholder, nor was he a man who would go to the slave-markets, and human shambles, to make merchan. dize of the bodies and souls of men.
It is commonly said by our learned men, who write on Biblical antiquities, just as it was said by the Popish writers from whom they borrrow their learning on this subject, such as Calmet, Jahn, &c., that the law of Moses sanctions slavery. And the reason which is given, is, that it is said he found slavery so deeply rooted among the Jews that he could not root it out, and therefore he let it remain, and contented himself with regulating it. Now, look at this doctrine. The Jews had been slaves themselves, for generations, and were only just three months out of bondage, when the law of Moses was given. Is it credible that they could in that time have become such an incorrigible set of slaveholders, that Moses, though clothed with divine authority, was not able to manage them ?
Let us now look at the law itself, in reference to the countenance it is supposed to give to modern slavery. It is said by the writers, that the Jews had slaves lawfully in several different ways. One was by captivity, as where they spared the lives of the Canaanites who were doomed to death, and these they might hold as slaves. But there is no truth in this. They had an express law respecting the Canaanites. It is given in Deut. xx, 16–18. “ But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheri. tance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth ; but thou shalt utterly destroy them, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee, that they teach you not to do after their abominations,” &c. This leaves none to be taken prisoners, without a direct violation of the commandment. Where then is there room for slavery? There is none. Jews were never allowed, in any circumstances, to make slaves of the Canaanites.
In regard to the surrounding idolatrous nations, without the limits of the devoted Canaanites, the law is different. We have it in a preceding verse of the same chapter :