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produce, Are not these the blood of innocent men, that have been stolen, and bought, and sold, and treated like brutes ? It behoves us to remember, however, that a system of iniquity is not sanctified by its inveteracy, nor yet by the multitudes concerned in it.--Evidently, therefore, does it appear, that the commerce and slavery of which I speak, are absolutely inimical to the precepts of Christ, and to the whole scope of his doctrine; as might be more largely proved, would time permit.
As our English seaports, Liverpool and Bristol, are infamously conspicuous in modern times for their trading in the persons and rights of men ; so were Tyre and Zidon, in the ages of remote antiquity. Let us hear, then, what Jehovah says to the inhuman, though opulent merchants of those ancient cities. Thus run the divine remonstrance and the awful prediction: What have ye to do with me, 0 Tyre and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine ? Will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head: because the children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border. Behold I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head: and I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to Sabeans, to a people far off: for the Lord hath spoken it.* Such was Jehovah's determination against Tyre and Zidon, the Liverpool and Bristol of ancient times !
* Joel iii. 4-8. Compare Ezek. xxvii, Rev. xviii. 10-13.
It may perhaps be objected, Personal slavery, though authorized by the laws of Greece and Rome, and though much practised in the apostolic times, is nowhere expressly condemned in the New Testament: nay, Christian slaves are exhorted to live in peaceable subjection to their own masters. To this it may be replied : Nor was the sanguinary despotism of Nero expressly condemned; but the disciples of Christ were commanded to behave peaceably under his government. The sports of the gladiators, authorized by the Roman laws, were extremely bloody and wicked; yet are they nowhere expressly condemned by the apostles. Numerous are the species of dishonesty and theft, which are common among us, and perhaps were so among people in those times; which, nevertheless, are not expressly forbidden in the New Testament. But, as all these things are breaches of moral duty; and as they are all inconsistent with that regard which is due to our neighbour's happiness; it is quite sufficient that they are implicitly and strongly forbidden by general moral principles, and by requisitions of a contrary conduct. Any man of common sense, whose mind is not biassed by selfinterest, may easily infer, from the general principles, commands and prohibitions of Christianity; that stealing an innocent man must be the worst of rapine; that buying such a kidnapped person is justifying the robbery; and that actually enslaving him, gives a sanction to those infamous deeds, by putting a finishing hand to the work of injustice.Besides, as an express prohibition of slavery might have excited a more violent opposition to the christian cause, than almost any thing with which it had
to conflict; so, neither the doctrine of Christ, nor the spiritual nature of his kingdom, required it. If the gracious gospel found persons in a state of slavery, whether civil or personal, it relieved their consciences and cheered their hearts; but it made no alteration respecting that slavery. The subject of a tyrannical civil governor continued to be a subject; and the slave of a private master continued to be a slave: except the governor and the master became acquainted with their own duty, and willing to perform it.
Having discussed my subject according to the plan proposed, I shall now conclude with a few exhortations relative to our own duty. As being professedly the followers of Christ, and the friends of mankind, I would exhort you, my brethren, earnestly and frequently to pray for the interposition of Providence to abolish the detestable traffic in man. That it is our indispensable duty to pray for the enlargement of our Lord's visible kingdom among men, is plain; that the despised Africans are naturally as capable of being made the spiritual subjects of Jesus Christ as ourselves, ought not to be questioned; and that the Slave Trade is, at present, an effectual bar to the propagation of Christianity among them, appears with decisive evidence. Nay, it is an insuperable obstruction to the progress of civilization among them, and to an honourable commerce with them. Zeal for the honour of Christ, and love to our fellow-creatures, ought therefore to inspire us with ardent prayer, that the horrid impediment may be removed, and that Christ may be glorified among them.--Nor ought we to pray, merely that God would abolish the infamous commerce irman, on the shores of Africa; but also for the gradual emancipation of oppressed Negroes in the West India islands: that the slavery of innocent persons may cease to exist, and sink under the detestation of all Europe. For what must the enslaved Africans in those islands think of Christians, of Christianity, and of Christ, under the tuition of their oppressors ?
Again: Let your ardent and frequent prayers be accompanied with prudent, peaceable, and steady efforts, in order to procure the total abolition of that criminal traffic, and of the cruel slavery consequent upon it. This is manifestly enjoined by that law of the Lord, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. A divine precept this, which requires us to do to others, as we might reasonably wish them to treat us, were we in their situation and they in ours.--When reflecting on this branch of moral duty, with reference to the case before us, I have sometimes been struck with the following supposed
I have imagined myself, my family, and all my dearest social connections, with many thousands of my countrymen, to have been kidnapped, bought, and sold into a state of cruel slavery. I have imagined the inhabitants of my native country in general, to have received authentic information of the iniquitous manner in which we were captured, transported into a foreign land, and there enslaved, I have still further imagined, that extremely few among Britons had any compassion for us; that only here and there one would remember us in their prayers, or exert any endeavours, either to relieve our distresses, or to prevent many thousands of equally innocent persons from falling, year after
year, into similar miseries. I have then supposed, that, in such a situation, I should consider Britons as quite insensible to the honour of national character, to the claims of private justice, and to the finer feelings of civilized humanity. Nay, I have imagined that, when under paroxisms of pain, I should reflect on their merciless conduct with indignation; consider them as devoted to the gain of oppression; as filling up their measure of national guilt; and as the destined objects of divine vengeance.
On the other hand, I have supposed all those myriads of Negroes in our West India islands, that are groaning under cruel slavery, to be acquainted with the true God, and with the prayers of thousands in this country, in order to procure a speedy abolition of the horrid traffic in man on the coasts of Africa, and a total, but gradual abolition of slavery in our sugar islands. I have then thought of the gratitude which must, on such a supposition, abound in the bosoms of those Negroes toward their compassionate friends; of the ten thousand times ten thousand prayers which they must address to the Father of mercies, that success may attend the cause of justice and of humanity in which their friends were sincerely engaged; and of the numerous benedictions which, from their hearts, they must pronounce on the persons, the families, and all the lawful pursuits, of those who are seeking to do them good.
On my own mind, these thoughts have sometimes made a strong impression, and have roused attention to the natural rights of oppressed Africans. For though they are ignorant of the true God, and