Sivut kuvina

the only thing which, in the laws of Moses, and in the authorized conduct of the Israelites, bears almost any resemblance to that personal slavery against which I plead, it may be expedient briefly to inquire into the reasons of it. Be it observed, then, that God, being the Creator of all things, is the universal Proprietor. No one has either liberty, or life, except by a grant from God. If therefore that grant be recalled, men cease to have any claim to those dearest of all temporal enjoyments. Mankind having revolted from God, and rebelled against him, they have universally forfeited their all to Eternal Justice. God may, therefore, justly deprive them of their property, their liberty, or their lives, according to his own sovereign pleasure, without being accountable to any of his creatures.-The Canaanitish nations, it is evident, were extremely wicked.* The universal Sovereign might, therefore, with apparent propriety, make them, in the present world, examples of his justice: that not only his chosen people, but others, in distant countries, might learn to revere his righteous government, and stand in awe of his terrible judgments. He was per fectly at liberty, therefore, to permit the Israelites to purchase those Canaanites for bond-servants, and to inflict such hardships upon them as he pleased. Nay, he might not only permit, but expressly command them, to treat those devoted people in such a manner as would have been enormously criminal, detached from that command. Thus, for instance, it would have been highly criminal for the Israelites to have invaded

* See Lev. xviii, 6–30.

the Canaanitish country, had not he who is the Universal Proprietor and Absolute Sovereign ordered them so to do. But, as that land was his own; as, by a divine grant, it had been consigned to Abraham's posterity; and as the tribes of Jacob were ordered to invade the country, to subdue its inhabitants, and to take possession, their conduct in so doing was lawful.-It would have been still more criminal for the chosen seed to have attempted, not only the conquest, but also the extermination of those devoted nations, had not the Lord commanded it. But he, by whose command they were to be extirpated, was equally at liberty to order their execution by the sword of Israel; as to have destroyed them by an earthquake, by the pestilence, or, as in the case of Sodom, by fire from heaven. It is on this ground, as I conceive, that the Mosaic laws relative to bond-servants proceed; the degrading service itself being subjected to the forementioned limitations.-I must now show,

THIRDLY, That supposing God had permitted the Israelitish people to traffic in the human species, and to enslave the Gentiles in a much greater degree than he did, it would not have authorized the conduct of Europeans toward the Africans.

To prove and illustrate this position, the following particulars may not be impertinent. The Israelites, as a body politic, were the peculiar people of God, in distinction from all other nations then upon the earth. But this is not the case with any people now in the world. While the Mosaic Dispensation continued, that singular and high

prerogative was exclusively enjoyed by the Jews: but when the Christian Economy was established, that prerogative ceased; nor did any other nation succeed to the honour. If the English, for instance, the Dutch, the French, or the Spaniards, were to claim the privilege; it would behove them to produce the divine charter by which it was granted. But it is manifest that no such authority can be adduced.-God, under that sublimest of all names, JEHOVAH, was not only the object of religious worship to the chosen people; but also their political monarch. The whole statute law of that kingdom, as well judicial, as moral and religious, was of his enacting: and on the observing that system of law which was promulgated by Jehovah, their national happiness depended. Now it is plain from what has been said, that the divine statute which authorized the Hebrews to purchase persons of the nations around them for bondservants, belonged to the judicial part of their legal code. But what nation pretends now to be governed by a system of law that is divine, or to have Jehovah for its political sovereign?--The Canaanitish country was, by Jehovah, expressly given to the Israelites for their inheritance; which rendered it lawful for them to conquer and possess it. But what nation in Europe has the least pretence to a divine grant of any particular district on the African continent?-Divine justice doomed the profligate and impious Canaanitish nations to destruction, or to a low state of subjugation; and Abraham's posterity were expressly appointed to execute the sentence. But to which of the European powers has God committed the execution


of similar judgments upon the Africans?-Those whom Jehovah permitted his people to buy, for a comparative degree of slavery, were to be, either Canaanites residing among them, or persons of the same description in the nations around them. But will this warrant our having recourse to a distant continent, for the purpose of purchasing and enslaving its innocent inhabitants?-Those Gentiles whom God permitted the Hebrews to buy, were to be employed in low services among themselves. But will this justify the English, or any commercial people, in purchasing Negroes and selling them to other nations? The former were treated as men, who, in the divine estimation, had forfeited the rights of citizens: but the latter, like beasts of burden, or as articles of mere commerce. -Canaanitish bond-servants, among the Israelites, were under the protection of divine law, which prohibited the exercise of cruelty upon them. But will any defender of West India slavery pretend, that our Colonial laws afford an equal degree of protection to the poor Negroes?

Again: The ancient distinction between Jews and Gentiles being entirely abolished, by the divine establishment of Christianity; those prerogatives that were peculiar to Judaism and its professors, do not now exist: among which prerogatives, the right of purchasing Gentiles for bond-servants is to be classed. Consequently, it is now as criminal and wicked for Europeans, either to steal, or to purchase and sell, the innocent Africans, for slaves; as it would have been for the Israelites to have stolen, sold, and enslaved one another: which, nevertheless, as appears from our text itself,


was absolutely forbidden under the severest of all temporal penalties. Nay, supposing our own countrymen, for instance, could prove, that they have succeeded to the ancient Israelitish prerogative respecting this matter; yet, from the particulars adduced in the preceding paragraph, it is apparent that their conduct would stand condemned by the Mosaic law. This would be more strikingly evident still, were I to lay before you the deceitful arts and iniquitous violence which are frequently used to obtain the poor Africans, in their own country-the cruel manner in which they are stowed on board the ships, when transported to the West India islands-the brutal mode of exposing them to sale when there-the inhuman separation of brothers and sisters, of parents and children, of husbands and wives, on that infamous occasion--and the cruelty with which they are generally treated, when employed in the sugar islands. For were these things described in detail, as they appear in the testimonies of numerous respestable witnesses, they would make your ears tingle; they would shock your tender feelings; they would rouse your indignation against a trade so degrading to humanity, and so enormously wicked.

. Further: Supposing the lawfulness of purchasing and of enslaving our innocent fellow-creatures were granted, it would be natural to ask, For whom is it lawful, and on what description of unoffending persons does the exercise of that des

*See An Abstract of the Evidence before a Select Committee of the House of Commons, relative to the Slave Trade, passim. Sold by J. Phillips, George-yard, Lombard-street. Price 9d.

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