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Does the Bible sanction slavery?: A discourse delivered at Norfolk, Conn., February 24, 1861 Paperback – January 1, 1861
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Top Customer Reviews
Eldridge introduces the concept which many of his readers, both North and South, would find it difficult to accept. "The descendents of Canaan were not all Africans, or black. A large proportion of them were as white as the Jews themselves." This flies in the face of the belief in Noah's curse, a strong point in the proslavery biblical argument. The pastor briefly describes slavery in the Old Testament times. He quotes Deuteronomy 23:15, 16: "Asian thou shalt not deliver unto his master this servant which is escaped from his master unto the. He shall dwell with thee even among you in the place where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him. [No fugitive slave law.]" In reference to heathen slavery the author quotes Dr. Raphal, "the most zealous proslavery rabbi in the land," saying, "under that system, the slave is a person in whom the dignity of human nature is to be respected; he has rights." He points out that in the South the slave is considered a thing and I think and have no rights. The author brings up a point that I have not heard discussed very often in anti-slavery sermons -- in the age of the Old Testament human rights had to be subjugated to the fight against heathenism. In other words, God will reveal more and more of himself in the fullness of time.
"The advocates of the system, may suppose, that even if we do and not find any authority for existing slavery in the old testament, yet as the gospel is an advanced upon the Judaic economy, it may be expected to establish a social system, that is so excellent and proper, and towards which we are told by high southern authority, society naturally gravitates. They may deem slavery one of the great blessings for the secure and continuous enjoyment of which we are in debt it to the superior light and more benevolent spirit of Christianity. I cannot say that such are my sentiments. I am firmly persuaded that slavery receives no support from the New Testament. [16 to 17]" this is the introduction to the second part of the sermon. The author now considers slavery in the New Testament. Our pastor takes on the exhortations of Paul that servants should remain faithful and obedient to their Masters: "no more does the direction to be submissive to to Masters, in general, if they could not be made free, prove that the legal claim of a master to their service was inherently founded in the principles of equality and justice. "
For our author, the Scripture which denies the sanction of God to slavery is that tiny epistle to Philemon. This very brief letter requests that master Philemon to accept his runaway slave not as a servant [slave] but as her brother. It flies in the face of the fugitive slave law. To quote the author, "it is one peculiarity and glory of the teachings of the New Testament that it announces principles, the fall application of which may not be seen at once, utterly scope and bearing become more and more evident as one yields himself to their control.... And all this Pauline onesimus where seeking to pursue a course honorable to religion, seeking to adorn the doctrine of God there Savior in all things, just as other service were directed to do. What heart must that man have who imagines that he can buy some species of logical chemistry, extort chattel slavery, into their right to hold century even Christian men as things." [21, 22, 23].
Why didn't the apostles come right out and condemn slavery if he was not part of God's will? The author gives his answer on page 23, "if they had commenced with attacking the laws and government, they would have increased the obstacles to the introduction of those great principles of truth and benevolence, under which these and other forms of evil would melt away." Eldridge takes exception the Bishop Hopkins view of the Declaration of Independence: "the statement of men's rights in the Declaration of Independence, is the utterance of the inherent conviction and the spontaneous feeling of the conscience and heart of man." The Bible is "not friendly to, but hospital to slavery, because the conclusion is in perfect accordance with the intuitive conviction and his spontaneous sentiments of mankind."
Thanks to the publisher Cornell University Press I have been able to read many sermons dealing with the religion and slavery. This is one of the best. If Pastor Eldridge preached as clearly and concisely as he wrote he must've been a terrific preacher. The book is very brief, 25 pages of text, and should definitely be read by anyone interested in this era in the history of religion and/or slavery. If it were possible, I would give this book 6 stars.