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the slave-owners by moral suasion, and she moulded the conscience of the legislators by an appeal to the innate rights of man. Thus, as snow melts before the sun, slavery yielded to the genial rays of the Gospel.
As a pious incentive to emancipation, it was ordained that the ceremony of manumission should be celebrated in the church on festival days, especially on Easter Sunday, and the slave-owners were admonished that the manumission of the slave was an act well calculated to conciliate the clemency of Heaven.
A brief review of the relative influence of Paganism and Christianity on slavery will bring out in bold relief two important facts of history which shed glory on the Christian religion.
1st. No Pagan government of ancient times ever framed any law aiming at the immediate or gradual extinction of slavery. The same remark is true of modern nations outside the pale of Christendom. Slavery in its most odious form is still upheld in Persia, Arabia, and Turkey, among the idolatrous worshippers of Africa, and wherever Mahommedanism holds sway. It exists, also, in China1 and Japan, and had continued in India until it was abolished by British influence in the present century.
2d. Christianity, from its birth to the present time, has labored in mitigating and extirpating this social evil. Slavery practically ceased to exist in Christian
1 Huc, Travels in Tartary, etc., I., ch. VIIL
Europe from the thirteenth century, and it has since been abolished in all European colonies. It was extinguished in the British possessions in 1833, chiefly through the influence of Wilberforce and Clarkson; and ten years later, more than twelve millions of slaves were set free in the East Indies by the government of Great Britain. France abolished slavery in her West India colonies in 1793. Spain emancipated her slaves in Porto Rico in 1873, and in 1886 the institution ceased to exist in Cuba. It has passed away from all the Spanish-American Republics. A decree of emancipation was promulgated in 1888, in Brazil, by virtue of which slavery is absolutely extinguished in the Empire.
Slavery was abolished by President Lincoln in 1863 in the States or parts of States then in rebellion. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was designed as a war measure in the interests of the Union, slavery would have eventually disappeared independently of the war; for it was confined to the South in whose border States it was gradually dying out, and it was opposed by the public sentiment of the Christian world. The thirteenth amendment to the Constitution adopted by Congress January 31, 1865, and ratified December 18, the same year, totally abolished slavery in the United States.
In a word, the consoling fact can be recorded to-day that, at the present moment, a single slave is not to be found on a solitary foot of Christendom.
To what cause are we to ascribe this happy result? Not to intellectual culture, for Pagan Greece and
Rome were as cultured as France and England; nor to an enlightened self-interest, for the immediate interests of the slave-owner demanded its retention; nor to the free intercourse of nations and the march of commerce, for the slave-trade was one of the most lucrative branches of business. The result is due to the humanizing influence of the Gospel alone.
Among the forces enlisted in the cause of freedom, the most potent came from the Papacy. In every age the voice of the Popes resounded clearly throughout the world in the interests of human freedom. Gregory the Great in the sixth century, Pius II. in the fifteenth, Paul III. in the sixteenth, Urban VIII. in the seventeenth, Benedict XIV. in the eighteenth, and Pius VII. in the nineteenth-all raised their voice either in commending the slaves to the humanity of their masters, or in advocating their manumission, or in righteous condemnation of the slave trade. Gregory XVI., in 1839 published a memorable Encyclical in which the following energetic language occurs: "By virtue of our Apostolic office, we warn and admonish in the Lord, all Christians of whatever condition they may be, and enjoin upon them that for the future no one shall venture unjustly to oppress the Indians, negroes, or other men whoever they may be, to strip them of their property, or reduce them into servitude, or give aid or support to those who commit such excesses, or carry on that infamous traffic by which the blacks, as if they were not men, but mere impure animals
reduced like them into servitude, contrary to the laws of justice and humanity, are bought, sold, and devoted to endure the hardest labor. Wherefore, by virtue of our Apostolic authority, we condemn all these things as absolutely unworthy of the Christian name."
And, lastly, Leo XIII.' denounces in emphatic terms the infamous slave-trade now systematically carried on in Africa by Mohammedan invaders.
He declares such a traffic to be in violation of the natural and the divine law. He proclaims this commerce in man the most infamous and inhuman that can be conceived. He exhorts Christian rulers and all true friends of humanity to rise in their might and, by concerted action and every righteous means, "to repress, forbid, and put an end once for all" to this violent and unholy abduction of human beings. He calls upon all Apostolic men in Africa to bring the weight of their moral influence toward securing the safety and liberty of the slaves; and he heartily commends the Emperor of Brazil for his recent decree by which all the slaves of the Empire are emancipated.
How different is the record of the following lines. condensed from Cardinal Lavigerie's Discourse! Slave-hunting is carried on in every independent Mussulman State in Africa; and yet no Mufti, Ulema, or any other expounder of the Koran, has ever protested against so atrocious a practice.
1Letter of Leo XIII. to the Bishops of Brazil, May 5, 1888.
The redemption of captives was another work which engaged the pious solicitude of the Church. From the fourth to the fourteenth century, Europe was periodically a prey to northern barbarians and Mohammedan invaders. The usual fate of the vanquished was death or slavery. They who escaped the sword were carried into bondage. A more wretched fate awaited the female sex, for they were reserved to gratify the caprices of their conquerors. "In no form of charity," says Mr. Lecky, "was the beneficial character of the Church more continually and more splendidly exercised than in redeeming captives from servitude."
When the Goths invaded Italy in the fourth century, St. Ambrose sat on the chair of Milan. After disposing of his private means for the redemption of captives, he melted down the golden vessels of the Church, that he might ransom his brethren in bondage. The Arians affected to be scandalized at his course. They charged him with atrocious sacrilege for thus disposing of the sacred vessels. Am• brose replied to them in language worthy an Apostle, that the liberty of man was of more value than gold or silver, that the salvation of souls was more precious than chalices, and that no sacrifice should be spared to rescue woman from a life of dishonor and degradation.
Instances of similar deeds of charity are recorded of St. Cyprian, St. Augustin, and St. Gregory the Great.
1 History of European Morals, II., 72