Slavery

“He that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.”

Ex. 21:16

“Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;”

Eph. 6:5

“Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.  Art thou called being a servant?  Care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.  For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.”

1 Cor. 7:20-22

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Order of Contents

A Summary of the General View of Slavery during the Puritan Era
Articles
Book
Quotes
On the History of Slavery
.      Early Church
.      Free Church of Scotland
On Political Segregation & Integration

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A Summary of the General View of Slavery during the Puritan Era

Intro

The following excerpt is from a major juridical work on Scottish civil law during the late 1600’s.  The significance of the excerpt below is that it is right.

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James Dalrymple Stair

The Institutions of the Law of Scotland, Deduced from its Originals, & Collated with the Civil, Canon & Feudal Laws, & with the Customs of Neighboring Nations…  (Edinburgh, 1681), Title 2, ‘Of Liberty’, p. 21

“1. Liberty is that natural power which man has of his own person, whence a free man is said to be suae potestatis, ‘in his own power’, and it is defined in the law to be a natural faculty to do that which every man pleases, unless he be hindered by law or force.

5.  Though liberty be the most precious right, yet it is not absolute, but limited; First, by the Will of God, and our obediential obligations to Him, and to men by his ordinance; and so though man has power of his own person, yet has he no power of his own life, or his members, to dispose of them at his pleasure, either by taking away of his life or amputation, or hurting of any member by himself, or by giving power to any other so to do, unless it be necessary for preserving the whole, but he is naturally obliged to God to maintain his life:

So likewise men may be restrained, or constrained by others, without encroachment upon the law of liberty, in the pursuance of other obediential obligations; as a husband has power to restrain his wife, from her liberty of going where she will, and may keep her within the bounds of conjugal society; so may parents restrain their children, and also constrain them to the performance of moral duties, and that without any engagement or law; we may also without any injury, restrain a furious person, or one who is inferring violence to himself, in his life or limbs, because this is not against any act of his lawful liberty, and is done as a duty in us of love and mercy:

But in matters of utility and profit, where the natural liberty is not hemmed in with an obligation, there, unless by his own delinquence or consent, man cannot justly be restrained, much less constrained upon pretense of his utility or profit; for liberty, as far preferable to profit, and in the matter of utility, every man is left to his own choice, and cannot without injury to God and Man, be hindered to do what he pleases, or be compelled to do what he pleases not, in things wherein he is free,

6.  Liberty may be diminished or taken away by our delinquence in the way of punishment, for seeing it is a right in our own power; as goods and debts may be forfaulted by our delinquence, so may our liberty, in whole or in part.

7.  Thirdly, our engagements do commonly import a diminution of our personal liberty, but much more, of that natural liberty of things without us; whence it is that the law allows personal execution or restraint, and incarceration of the debitor’s person, until he do all the deeds that are in his power for the satisfaction of his Creditor.

9.  Fifthly, liberty is wholly taken off by bondage, slavery or servitude, which is diametrically opposite to liberty; for as liberty is that power by which men are sui juris [in his own power], so by servitude they became alieni juris, ‘in the power of another’…

10.  Bondage was introduced by the law of nations, and it is among the positive laws of nations, settled by common consuetude [custom], and it took first place in these who were taken in war, who being under the power of their enemies’ sword, did lose their liberty in lieu [in place] of their life [instead of being killed]; such also were these who sold their liberty and gave it up, and were content to be perpetual slaves, as were the Jewish bondmen, whose ears were pierced with an aul [Ex. 21], as the solemnity of their perpetual and willing servitude, the offspring of servants remained in their servile condition…

11.  Bondage, though contrair to the nature of liberty, yet it is lawful; liberty being a right alienable, and in our disposal, so that the natural law constitutes us free, but puts no necessity on us, so to continue; and therefore servitude is both approven in the Old Testament; and in the New, it is cleared against that obvious objection, that being made free by Christ, we should not become the servants of men, to which the Apostle answers, ‘Art thou called, being a servant (or slave)? continue so, for nevertheless thou art Christ’s freeman’ [1 Cor. 7]:

But yet Christian lenity and mercy, has almost taken away bondage, except amongst the Spaniards, Portugals [who were Romanist] and other Christian nations bordering upon the Turks [Muslims], where, because the Turks do extremely exercise slavery, especially upon Christians, their neighbors do the like, that they may have slaves to exchange with slaves: little of slavery remains elsewhere among Christians, except the Ascriptitii, who are not absolutely slaves…  but in Scotland there is no such thing.”

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Articles

1600’s

Gouge, William – ‘The Seventh Treatise: Duties of Servants’ & ‘The Eight Treatise: Duties of Masters’  1622  55 & 48 pp.  in Domestical Duties, pp. 589-693

“…Gouge…  addressed the relationship between masters and servants, meaning by ‘servants’ both those ‘born servants, or sold as servants, or taken in war’ and those ‘being by voluntary contract made servants.’…  Gouge also said that regardless of where we stand in human society, we have ‘equality’ before God.  He warned, ‘If the greatest man that ever was in the world should have a servant that were the [lowest in rank] that ever was, and a case betwixt that master and that servant should come before God, God would not any whit at all lean to that master more than to the servant.'” – Joel Beeke

The French Reformed Churches – Ch. 15, article 4  of the Synod of Alancon (1634)  in John Quick, Synodicon, vol. 2, p. 348

Rutherford, Samuel – ”Every man is born free’ and how Servitude is Contrary to Nature’  1644  3 pp.  in Lex Rex, Question 13, Assertion 2, ff., pp. 51-53

Ascham, Antony – An Answer to the Vindication of Doctor [Henry] Hammond Against the Exceptions of Eutactus Philodemius, wherein is Endeavored to be Cleared what Power Man has 1. Over his own Liberty, (which is) his All; 2. Over his Own Life, for which He will Give that All  (London, 1650)  18 pp.

Ascham (c. 1614–1650) was a was a reformed, puritan, British academic, political theorist, Parliamentarian and diplomat.

This is work deals with the philosophy of slavery in some length and is a reply to Hammond’s, A Vindication of Dr. Hammond’s address etc. from the exceptions of Eutactus Philodemius…  (1649).

Mather, Cotton

A Good Master Well Served. A Brief Discourse on the Necessary Properties & Practices of a Good Servant in Every-Kind of Servitude: & of the Methods that should be taken by the Heads of a Family to Obtain such a Servant  (Boston, 1696)  55 pp.

The Negro Christianized, an Essay to Excite & Assist the Good Work, the Instruction of Negro-Servants in Christianity  (Boston,, 1706)  46 pp.  with catechisms for servants

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1700’s

Sewall, Samuel – ‘The Selling of Joseph’  1700  3 pp.

Sewall was a reformed, New England puritan.

Edwards, Jr., Jonathan – ‘The Injustice & Impolicy of the Slave Trade, & of the Slavery of the Africans, Illustrated in a Sermon’  1791  23 pp.

“Jonathan Edwards owned slaves, yet Thabiti Anyabwile has said in a recent paper that Edwards condemned the slave trade and denied that Africans and Native Americans were inferior to white people.  His son, Jonathan Edwards, Jr., took the next logical step and advocated against slavery…” – Joel Beeke

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1800’s

McLeod, Alexander – Negro Slavery Unjustifiable: a Discourse  1802  41 pp.

McLeod was an American, Northern, Reformed Presbyterian.

PCUSA, New School – ‘A Small Breeze-Slavery Discussion’  1857  15 paragraphs   News-clipping

PCUSA, North, Old School – ‘Foreign Correspondence and the Slavery Question’  1845  4 pp.  The moderator of the General Assembly was Charles Hodge

Breckinridge, Robert – A Speech in regard to the Power of the Legislature on the subject of Slavery, of the Importation of Slaves, of Abolitionism, of British Influence, of Religious Liberty, etc.  1840  32 pp.  This speech was given on account of the resignation of Robert Wickliffe from the office of Senator, in defense of his personal character, political principles and his religious connections.  Breckinridge in the speech is also defending himself from accusations made to the same effect.  

Chalmers, Thomas

Appendix I – Matured Expression of Dr. Chalmers’s Sentiments on the Subject of Slavery in America  in William Hanna, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Thomas Chalmers, vol. 4, pp. 581-91

‘A Few Thoughts on the Abolition of Colonial Slavery’  in Miscellanies: Embracing Reviews, Essays and Addresses

Dabney, Robert

‘Slavery’  1897  13 pp.  in The Practical Philosophy, pp. 403-416

‘Liberty & Slavery’  in Discussions, vol. 3, pp. 61-69

‘Anti-Biblical Theory of Rights’  in Discussions, vol. 3, pp. 497-522

‘Economic Effects of the Former Labor System of the Southern United States’  in Discussions, vol. 4, pp. 354-391

Hodge, Charles

Essays and Reviews  1857  661 pp.

In this you will find Hodge taking up the interesting subjects of Regeneration, the Atonement, Theories of the Church, that the Roman Church is part of the Visible Church, the Lord’s Supper, Slavery (which he is against) and Emancipation, amongst others.

The Bible Argument on Slavery  1860, p. 837, 46 pp.  from Cotton is King and Pro-Slavery Arguments.  This article is different than his article on slavery in his Essays and Reviews

The Fugitive Slave Law  1860, p. 805, 30 pp.

Miller, Samuel – A Discourse for Promoting the Manumission [Freeing] of Slaves, and Protecting such of them as have been, or may be Liberated  1797  36 pp.

Thornwell, James – ‘The Church and Slavery’  1850-1851  60 pp.  in Collected Writings, vol. 5, pp. 376-436 being 2 distinct pieces: ‘Relation of the Church to Slavery’, being a report adopted by the Synod of South Carolina, and ‘The Christian Doctrine of Slavery’, being a sermon on Col. 4:1.

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2000’s

Willborn, Nick – “Presbyterians in the South and the Slave: A Study in Benevolence,” in The Confessional Presbyterian, vol. 3, 2007  Buy  

An excellent historical article chronicling Girardeau’s efforts to minister to the black slaves.  Written by one who did his dissertation on Girardeau and is, Lord willing, coming out with the first full length biography of Girardeau.

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Books

Dabney, Robert – A Defence of Virginia: and through Her, of the South  Buy  1867  356 pp.

The most thorough Biblical defense of slavery.  Dabney also gives the history of the rise of the slave trade (which he condemns, Virginia being the first state to outlaw it on Biblical grounds), the legal origins of slavery in America, as well as the history of emancipation in the states. 

Robinson, John – The Testimony and Practice of the Presbyterian Church in Reference to American Slavery  1852  250 pp.  with an appendix citing numerous American Church statements on the issue.  The work is against American slavery.

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Quotes

That Slavery may be Consistent with Natural Law

Willet, Andrew

Hexapla in Genesin & Exodum…  (London, 1633), on Ex. 21, Question 10

“Of three kinds of liberty, and how servitude is agreeable to the Law of Nature.

But here it will further be demanded, whether servitude be agreeable to the Law of nature, and how it comes to pass, that the Lord suffered the Israelites being a free people, to be servants one unto another. For the deciding of this doubt, there is a threefold kind of liberty to be considered, a natural liberty, civil, and spiritual.

1. The natural liberty I call that, wherein Adam was created, being subdued to no bondage, neither spiritual of sin, nor corporal in any outward subjection to any creature: but as he had a freedom of will, and was made Lord of his affections within, that he needed not to have sinned, unless he would himself: so he had the dominion of the creatures given unto him. This original liberty of nature considered, servitude and bondage was brought in as a punishment of sin, and so is not simply, and of itself agreeable to the Law of nature.

2. But now since Adam’s fall, there is another kind of civil liberty, and civil servitude opposite unto it.  Civil liberty is defined to be a natural faculty, for every man to do as himself likes. . .  unless one be hindered by force or in right; for that is no true liberty for a man against right, to do what him likes . . .  Now this servitude simply accords not with nature, as the Apostle says, If yet thou mayest be free, use it rather, 1 Cor. 7.21. showing that every one by nature desires liberty and freedom.

But after a sort this servitude is agreeable to nature, not simply, or of itself, but as other punishments are said to be natural, as tending to the maintenance of society among men which is properly natural.

And if it be objected, why since all men are fallen in Adam, and so brought into subjection, why all likewise become not servants: the answer is, that two things must be considered in this our corrupt state: the one is the Law of corruption, brought in by sin, the other the goodness of God: that although all men are subject by sin to the same bondage and corruption, yet the goodness of God qualifies that slavish condition of nature, as that some do enjoy an outward liberty and freedom: like as in the inward faculties of the soul, the Lord gives unto some more light of understanding, dexterity of wit, profoundness of judgement, and other natural gifts, than unto others.

3. The spiritual liberty is wrought in us by grace in Christ, which is from the subjection of sin, and malediction of the Law; that our conscience is no more terrified with slavish fear, but we are at peace with God: and beside, by this spiritual liberty, the faithful have restored unto them the dominion over all creatures: that though not in external possession, yet in a spiritual right, all things are theirs, whether the world, life, death, things present or things to come, 1 Cor. 3.22. and all things work to the best, to those that love God, Rom. 8.28.

So these may very well stand together, external servitude, and spiritual freedom: it is possible for one to bee a freeman to God, and yet a servant in the world, and another to be a bondman to sin, and yet free in the world: for there are divers objects of these two kinds of liberty and bondage; the outward freedom respects this life and state, the free use of riches, and pleasures of this life: the spiritual and internal freedom hath set before it the salvation of the soul, the favor of God, and life eternal.  Christian religion then overthrows not the diversity of degrees among men: But as Christ, though he were by his spiritual right, free from all taxes and impositions, yet lest he should offend, payed poll money, Matt. 17. so Christians, though they are made free by faith in the Son, yet for the maintenance of peace and love, and avoiding of offence, in disturbing the temporal State, they are bound as well as others, to be subject unto the powers of this world[.]”

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William Gouge

Domestical Duties, 7th Treatise, Section 3

“Of the Anabaptists’ arguments against the authority of masters, and subjection of servants.

2. Objection.  It is against nature for one to be servant, especially a bond-servant to another.

Answer.  To grant that it is against that absolute and perfect nature wherein at first God created man, and that it came in by sin, yet is it not against that order and course of nature wherein God has now settled man.  God has turned many punishments of sin to be bounden duties: as subjection of wife to husband and man’s eating bread in the sweat of his brow.”

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Francis Turretin

Institutes, vol. 2, 11th Topic, 2nd Question, ‘The Nature of the Moral Law’, section 19, p. 13

“XVIII.  The natural law cannot be said to have undergone a change…

XIX.  Nor by the introduction of slavery; while before, by the primeval law [Gen. 1], all were free.  They were not otherwise free than inasmuch as they were free from criminality.  When this entered [with the Fall of Adam], slavery passed upon all.  For he who assails another’s liberty deservedly loses his own.  Nor if the law of nature makes all men equal with regard to nature does it follow that they are equal with regard to qualities and external condition.”

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On Slaves Gaining Freedom by Running Away

Samuel Rutherford

Lex Rex…  (London, 1646), p. 120

“…and if violence made the surrender of liberty, here is slavery, and slaves taken in war, so soon as they can escape and return to their own, they are free (D. Sect. item. ea Justit. de rerum divin. l. nihil. F. de capt. l. 3).  So the learned Ferdinand Vasquez (Illustri. l. 2. c. 82. n. 15) says, ‘The bird that was taken, and has escaped, is free;’ nature in a forced people, so soon as they can escape from a violent conqueror makes them a free people; and si solo tempore (says Ferdinand Vasquez, l. 2. c. 82. n. 6) justificatur subjectio, solo tempore facilius justificabitur liberatio.”

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On the History of Slavery

Beeke, Joel – ‘The Seeds of Anti-Slavery in Reformed, Puritan Doctrine’  2010  3 pp.

Anyabwile, Thabiti – Jonathan Edwards, Slavery, and the Theology of African Americans  2012  10 pp.

“Jonathan Edwards owned slaves, yet Thabiti Anyabwile has said in a recent paper that Edwards condemned the slave trade and denied that Africans and Native Americans were inferior to white people.  His son, Jonathan Edwards, Jr., took the next logical step and advocated against slavery…” – Joel Beeke

PCA Historical Center – ‘Alexander McLeod’s Stand Against Slavery’

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The Early Church

Schaff, Philip – ‘Social Reforms.  The Institution of Slavery’  6 pp.  in The History of the Christian Church, ‘Third Period’, section 20, pp. 115-120

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The Free Church of Scotland and Slavery

Books

Thompson, George & Wright, Henry – The Free Church of Scotland and American Slavery: Substance of Speeches Delivered, with an Appendix containing the Deliverances of the Free Church on the Subject of Slavery 1844-1846 and other Valuable Documents  1846  103 pp.

Whyte, Iain – Send Back the Money!: The Free Church of Scotland and American Slavery  Buy  2012  176 pp.

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Articles, Speeches and Letters

Hammond, J.H. – ‘Letter of Governor Hammond to the Free Church of Glasgow ont he Subject of Slavery’  1844  4 pp.  Hammond appears to have been the governor of South Carolina, and his letter is heralded as one of the best, brief defenses of Southern slavery.  The letter is addressed to Rev. Thomas Brown, and his presbytery.

Douglass, Frederick

‘The Free Church of Scotland and American Slavery: An Address Delivered in Dundee, Scotland, on January 30, 1846’  19 paragraphs  from the Dundee Courier, Feb. 3, 1846  See also the account here..

During his tour of Scotland in 1846 Frederick Douglass, the former slave and anti-slavery campaigner, demanded that the Free Church ‘send back the money’.  The Free Church was founded in 1843 and was deprived of public money. It raised some funds from slave-owning Presbyterian churches in the United States.

Many people felt that the Free Church was therefore sympathetic to the slave-owners and opposed to the emancipation of the slaves. ‘Send back the money’ became a popular rallying cry at Douglass’s meetings in Scotland.

‘The Free States, Slavery, and the Sin of the Free Church: An Address Delivered in Paisley, Scotland, on March 19, 1846’  5 paragraphs  from the Renfrewshire Advertiser, March 28, 1846.  Here is a fuller transcription of the speech.

Various – pp. 92-95 of The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Reporter, vol. 1, 1846

Ritchie, Daniel – ‘Antislavery Orthodoxy: Isaac Nelson and the Free Church of Scotland, c. 1843-65’  2015  25 pp.  from The Scottish Historical Review

Brown, Nikki – pp. 4-6 of ‘‘Send back the money!’ Frederick Douglass’s Anti-Slavery Speeches in Scotland and the Emergence of African American Internationalism’

Shepperson, George – The Free Church and American Slavery  1951  17 pp.  in The Scottish Historical Review  This can be read for free if you create a free JSTOR account.

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On Political Segregation & Integration

Mason, Bradly – ‘Then & Now:  The Conservative Presbyterian Race Debate in 1964’  2018  67 paragraphs

The American Civil Rights Act passed in 1964.  After this, in the same year, a debate took place through The Presbyterian Guardian, a conservative presbyterian journal originally started by J. Gresham Machen (who was for segregation). 

C. Herbert Oliver argued against segregation; Morton H. Smith argued for it, and R.J Rushdoony and E.J. Young offered similar shades of the same view.  Other churches and persons are quoted, giving an interesting window into that period of the American, conservative, presbyterian scene.

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But because the Lord loved you…  the Lord…  redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

Dt. 7:8

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