Page:The Bible Against Slavery (Weld, 1838).djvu/13

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being, and rushes upon Jehovah. For rights are rights; God's are no more—man's are no less.

The eighth commandment forbids the taking of any part of that which belongs to another. Slavery takes the whole. Does the same Bible which prohibits the taking of any thing from him, sanction the taking of every thing? Does it thunder wrath against him who robs his neighbor of a cent, yet bid God speed to him who robs his neighbor of himself? Slaveholding is the highest possible violation of the eighth commandment. To take from a man his earnings, is theft. But to take the earner, is a compound, life-long theft—supreme robbery, that vaults up the climax at a leap—the dread, terrific, giant robbery, that towers among other robberies a solitary horror, monarch of the realm. The eighth commandment forbids the taking away, and the tenth adds, "thou shalt not covet any thing that is thy neighbor's;" thus guarding every man's right to himself and his property, by making not only the actual taking away a sin, but even that state of mind which would tempt to it. Who ever made human beings slaves, without coveting them? Why take from them their time, labor, liberty, right of self-preservation and improvement, their right to acquire property, to worship according to conscience, to search the Scriptures, to live with their families, and their right to their own bodies, if they do not desire them? They covet them for purposes of gain, convenience, lust of dominion, of sensual gratification, of pride and ostentation. They break the tenth commandment, and pluck down upon their heads the plagues that are written in the book.—Ten commandments constitute the brief compend of human duty.—Two of these brand slavery as sin.

The giving of the law at Sinai, immediately preceded the promulgation of that body of laws called the "Mosaic system." Over the gateway of that system, fearful words were written by the finger of God—"He that stealeth a man and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death." Ex. xxi. 16.

The oppression of the Israelites in Egypt, and the wonders wrought for their deliverance, proclaim the reason for such a law at such a time—when the body politic became a theocracy, and reverently waited for the will of God. They had just been emancipated. The tragedies of their house of bondage were the realities of yesterday, and peopled their memories with thronging horrors. They had just