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for though a partial compensation for their loss was granted to the West Indian slave-owners, they were forced to give up their slaves notoriously against their will.


It is true that the Old Testament distinctly recognizes Slavery as a Hebrew institution. It is also true that the New Testament speaks of Slavery in several passages, and does not condemn it.

But before we draw the conclusion that Slavery is a divine institution established by God for all time, we must consider what was the object of God's dealings with Man recorded in the Bible.

If it was to put human society at once in a state of perfection, without further effort, political, social or intellectual, on the part of Man, the inference is irresistible that every institution enjoined in the Bible is part of a perfect scheme, and that every institution mentioned in the Bible without condemnation will be lawful to the end of time.

But if the object was to implant in man's heart a principle, viz. the love of God and Man, which should move him to work (God also working in him) for the improvement of his own state and that of his fellows, and for the transforming of

his and their life into the image of their Maker; in this case, { it will by no means follow that any social institution recog

nized in Scripture for the time being, or mentioned by it without condemnation, is forever good or lawful in the sight of God.

And that this, not the other, was the real object is matter of hourly experience ; for man labors till now to improve his state and that of his fellows; and his conscience, which is the voice of God, tells him that he does well.

To say


that the Bible has nothing to do with politics or science, is a bad way of escaping from a difficulty of our own creating. The Bible has much to do with politics and science, and with everything that enters, as all parts of our social and intellectual state do enter, into the moral life of

But it does not suddenly reveal political and scientific truth without calling for any effort on the part of man himself to attain them ; because such a revelation, instead of promoting, would have defeated the end for which, as the voice of our free moral nature assures us, the world was made. It implants in man the principle which leads him to good action of every kind. The love of God and Man, moving to disinterested efforts for the good of the community, is the source of all political improvement, at least of all that is real and lasting. And the same affection moves the high and selfdevoted labors which have led to the discovery of scientific and philosophic truth. And thus in its onward progress human nature is by the very condition of that progress changed into the likeness of its Maker. Why God should choose gradual improvement rather than immediate perfection, this is not the place to inquire. That He does so, appears from the history not only of the moral, but of the physical world.

The Bible recognizes Progress. The New Testament says of the Old Testament that Moses gave the Jews certain things for the hardness of their hearts; not, of course, for their wickedness, to which God would not bend His law, but for their rude and uncivilized state. And not merely for their rudeness and want of civilization, but for the primitive narrowness of the circle of their affections; for it is only in the course of history, and with the increasing range of man's social vision, that his affection extends from the primeval family to the tribe, from the tribe to the nation, and from the nation to mankind. And as to the New Testament itself, it breathes in every page boundless hope for the future, together with the charity which is the source of social effort, and with

the faith which carries each man beyond the sensual objects of his own short life. And it closes with that splendid vision of the consummation of all Christian effort in the perfect reign of God on earth, from which folly attempts to cast, like an astrologer, the horoscope of nations; but which is in truth the last voice of Christianity, as it passes from the hands of the Apostles and commits itself to the dark and dangerous tide of human affairs, breaking forth in the assurance of final victory.

The true spiritual life of the world commenced in the Chosen People. He who denies this would seem to deny, not a theory of Inspiration, but a great and manifest fact of history. But the spiritual life commenced under an earthly mould of national life similar in all respects, political, social, and literary, to those of other races. The Jewish nation, in short, was a nation, not a miracle. Had it been a miracle, it might have shown forth the power of God, like the stars in heaven, but it would have been nothing to the rest.of mankind, nor could its spiritual life have helped to awaken theirs.*

This commencement of the spiritual life was marked by the appearance (1.) of a Cosmogony which, unlike those of heathen nations, gave a true account of the origin of the world and of Man, and a true account of the relations between Man and his Creator; (2.) of a series of histories written on a moral and religious principle, and still unrivalled among historical writings for the steadiness with which this, the true key to history, is kept in view ; (3.) of a body of religious literature, in the shape of hymns, reflections, preachings, apologues, which, though not Christian, and therefore not to be indiscriminately used by Christians, was wholly unapproached among the heathen; (4.) of a Code of Laws the beneficence of which is equally unapproached by any code, and least of all by any Oriental code, not produced under the influence of Christianity.

* See the author's work on Rational Religion, p. 50.

This code of laws takes the rude institutions of a primitive nation, including Slavery, as they stand, not changing society by miracle, which, as has been said before, seems to have been no part of the purposes of God. But while it takes these institutions as they stand, it does not perpetuate them, but reforms them, mitigates them, and lays on them restrictions tending to their gradual abolition. Much less does it introduce any barbarous institution or custom for the first time.

To show that this principle is not invented for the case of Slavery, we will try to verify it in some other cases first. It will be the more worth while to do this, because if the principle be sound, it may help to relieve the distress caused by doubts as to the morality of the Old Testament on other points as well as on the question now in issue. It may do this at a less expense than that of supposing the existence of two different Moralities, one for God, the other for Man, and thus making Man worship what to his mind must be an immoral God.

In times before the reign of Law, justice was done on the murderer by the nearest kinsman of the murdered as Avenger of Blood. Such justice was a degree better than no justice ; and a custom which assigned the sacred duty of revenge to a particular person, instead of leaving it to any chance hand, was the first step towards the appointment of a regular magistrate. This institution seems to have been universal among primitive tribes. A relic of it lingered in the law of this country till the reign of George III., when Wager of Battle having been demanded in a case of murder by the nearest of kin against the murderer, as a common-law right, the demand was with difficulty evaded.

The law of Moses, accordingly, recognizes the Avenger of Blood (Numb. xxxv., &c.).

But the custom was liable to great abuses, which were apt to make it a step backwards instead of forwards in morality

and civilization. (1.) The same revenge was taken for blood however shed, whether wilfully or accidentally, which confounded men’s notion of crime, and in fact multiplied murders. (2.) When covetousness overcame revenge, and the slain kinsman was not very dear, a sum of money (called by our German ancestors the wehrgeld) was taken for his blood instead of the blood of the slayer; and this practice grew into a regular system, which destroyed the distinction between crime and civil injury, took away the sanctity of human life, the foundation-stone of civilization, and moreover sharpened barbarous divisions of class, since the price of a man's blood was assessed in the tariff according to his rank. (3.) Revenge became hereditary, and blood feuds arose between family and family or clan and clan, which filled the world with slaughter. Such blood feuds were common in the Highlands while the old clans existed, and they are still common among the wild tribes of Syria and in other parts of the East.

Now (1.) the law of Moses expressly distinguishes wilful murder from accidental homicide, and confines the office of the Avenger of Blood to wilful murder. 6 And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer : the murderer shall surely be put to death. .... Or if he smite him with a hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him. But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die; or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote him shall surely be put to death ; for he is a murderer : the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him. But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him anything without laying of wait, or with any stone, wherewith a man may die, seeing him not, and cast it upon him, that he die, and was not

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