It is not denied that slavery was tolerated among the ancient people of God. Abraham had servants in his family who were “bought with his money,” Gen. xvii: 13. “Abimeleck took sheep and oxen and men servants and maid servants and gave them unto Abraham.” Moses, finding this institution among the Hebrews and all surrounding nations, did not abolish it. He enacted laws directing how slaves were to be treated, on what conditions they were to be liberated, under what circumstances they might and might not be sold; he recognizes the distinction between slaves and hired servants, (Deut. xv: 18); he speaks of the way by which these bondmen might be procured; as by war, by purchase, by the right of creditorship, by the sentence of a judge, by birth; but not by seizing on those who were free, an offense punished by death.

, What constitutes the law? You will find some text writers telling you that it is something different from what is decided by the courts of Massachusetts or England, that it is a system of reason, that it is a deduction from principles of ethics or admitted axioms or what not, which may or may not coincide with the decisions. But if we take the view of our friend the bad man we shall find that he does not care two straws for the axioms or deductions, but that he does want to know what the Massachusetts or English courts are likely to do in fact. I am much of this mind. The prophecies of what the courts will do in fact, and nothing more pretentious, are what I mean by the law.

With deepest application and forethought, and by the blessing of God, we have attained both of these objects. The barbarian nations which we have subjugated know our valour, Africa and other provinces without number being once more, after so long an interval, reduced beneath the sway of Rome by victories granted by Heaven, and themselves bearing witness to our dominion. All peoples too are ruled by laws which we have either enacted or arranged. Having removed every inconsistency from the sacred constitutions, hitherto inharmonious and confused, we extended our care to the immense volumes of the older jurisprudence; and, like sailors crossing the mid-ocean, by the favour of Heaven have now completed a work of which we once despaired.

Recent Updates