Page:The Bible Against Slavery (Weld, 1838).djvu/19

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


Before entering upon an analysis of the condition of servants under these two states of society, we will consider the import of certain terms which describe the mode of procuring them.


As the Israelites were commanded to "buy" their servants, and as Abraham had servants "bought with money," it is argued that servants were articles of property. The sole ground for this belief is the terms themselves. How much might be saved, if in discussion, the thing to be proved were always assumed. To beg the question in debate, would be vast economy of midnight oil! and a great forestaller of wrinkles and grey hairs! Instead of protracted investigation into Scripture usage, with painful collating of passages, to find the meaning of terms, let every man interpret the oldest book in the world by the usages of his own time and place, and the work is done. And then instead of one revelation, they might be multiplied as the drops of the morning, and every man have an infallible clue to the mind of the Spirit, if he only understood the dialect of his own neighborhood! What a Babel-jargon it would make of the Bible to take it for granted that the sense in which words are now used is the inspired sense, David says, "I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried." What, stop the earth in its revolution! Two hundred years ago, prevent was used in its strict Latin sense to come before, or anticipate. It is always used in this sense in the Old and New Testaments. David's expression, in the English of the nineteenth century, would be "Before the dawning of the morning I cried." In almost every chapter of the Bible, words are used in a sense now nearly or quite obsolete, and sometimes in a sense totally opposite to their present meaning. A few examples follow: "I purposed to come to you, but was let (hindered) hitherto." "And the four beasts (living ones) fell down and worshipped God,"—"Whosoever shall offend (cause to sin) one of these little ones,"—"Go out into the highways and compel (urge) them to come in,"—"Only let your conversation (habitual conduct) be as becometh the Gospel,"—"They that seek me early (earnestly) shall find me,"—"So when tribulation

ness, would be a trumpet call, summoning from bush and brake, highway and hedge, and sheltering fence, a brotherhood of kindred affinities, each claiming Abraham or Noah as his patron saint, and shouting, "My name is legion." What a myriad choir and thunderous song.