Page:The Bible Against Slavery (Weld, 1838).djvu/29

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


nize the right of the master to hold him; his fleeing shows his choice—proclaims his wrongs and his title to protection; you shall not force him back and thus recognize the right of the master to hold him in such a condition as induces him to flee to others for protection." It may be said that this command referred only to the servants of heathen masters in the surrounding nations. We answer, the terms of the command are unlimited. But the objection, if valid, would merely shift the pressure of the difficulty to another point. Did God require them to protect the free choice of a single servant from the heathen, and yet authorize the same persons, to crush the free choice of thousands of servants from the heathen? Suppose a case. A foreign servant flees to the Israelites; God says, "He shall dwell with thee, in that place which he shall choose, in one of thy gates where it liketh him best." Now, suppose this same servant, instead of coming into Israel of his own accord, had been dragged in by some kidnapper who bought him of his master, and forced him into a condition against his will; would He who forbade such treatment of the stranger, who voluntarily came into the land, sanction the same treatment of the same person, provided in addition to this last outrage, the previous one had been committed of forcing him into the nation against his will? To commit violence on the free choice of a foreign servant is forsooth a horrible enormity, provided you begin the violence after he has come among you. But if you commit the first act on the other side of the line; if you begin the outrage by buying him from a third person against his will, and then tear him from home, drag him across the line into the land of Israel, and hold him as a slave—ah! that alters the case, and you may perpetrate the violence now with impunity! Would greater favor have been shown to this new comer than to the old residents—those who had been servants in Jewish families perhaps for a generation? Were the Israelites commanded to exercise toward him, uncircumcised and out of the covenant, a justice and kindness denied to the multitudes who were circumcised, and within the covenant? But, the objector finds small gain to his argument on the supposition that the covenant respected merely the fugitives from the surrounding nations, while it left the servants of the Israelites in a condition against their wills. In that case, the surrounding nations would adopt retaliatory measures, and become so many asylums for Jewish fugitives. As these nations were not only on every side of them, but in their midst, such