Page:Charles Bradlaugh Humanity's Gain from Unbelief.djvu/9

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

HUMANITY'S GAIN FROM UNBELIEF.

7

Fall of the Slave Power in America"; Samuel J. May, in his "Recollections of the Anti-Slavery Conflict"; and J. Greenleaf Whittier, in his poems, alike are witnesses that the Bible and pulpit, the Church and its great influence were used against abolition and in favor of the slave-owner. I know that Christians in the present day often declare that Christianity had a large share in bringing about the abolition of slavery, and this because men professing Christianity were abolitionists. I plead that these so-called Christian abolitionists were men and women whose humanity, recognising freedom for all, was in this in direct conflict with Christianity. It is not yet fifty years since the European Christian powers jointly agreed to abolish the slave trade. What of the effect of Christianity on these powers in the centuries which had preceded? The heretic Condorcet pleaded powerfully for freedom whilst Christian France was still slave-holding. For many centuries Christian Spain and Christian Portugal held slaves. Porto Rico freedom is not of long date; and Cuban emancipation is even yet newer. It was a Christian King, Charles 5th, and a Christian friar, who founded in Spanish America the slave trade between the Old World and the New. For some 1800 years, almost, Christians kept slaves, bought slaves, sold slaves, bred slaves, stole slaves. Pious Bristol and godly Liverpool less than 100 years ago openly grew rich on the traffic. During the ninth century Greek Christians sold slaves to the Saracens. In the eleventh century prostitutes were publicly sold as slaves in Rome, and the profit went to the Church.

It is said that William Wilberforce, the abolitionist, was a Christian. But at any rate his Christianity was strongly diluted with unbelief. As an abolitionist he did not believe Leviticus xxv, 44-6; he must have rejected Exodus xxi, 2-6; he could not have accepted the many permissions and injunctions by the Bible deity to his chosen people to capture and hold slaves. In the House of Commons on 18th February, 1796, Wilberforce reminded that Christian assembly that infidel and anarchic France had given liberty to the Africans, whilst Christian and monarchic England was "obstinately continuing a system of cruelty and injustice".

Wilberforce, whilst advocating the abolition of slavery, found the whole influence of the English Court, and the