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The object of the present work, is not so much to render oh. noxious the cruel treatment of slaves, as to discuss the principle of slaveholding, and to show forth the iniquity of the practice. The cruel treatment of slaves has been often exposed to public view, by many able hands, who have also by judicious arguments refuted the most specious apologies that have been advanced in favor of the principle. Yet, that the principle or moral ground upon which slavery is practiced in the world, has been too lightly touched by modern writers, is manifest from two concessions, which most of them appear to admit. The first is, that slavery was authorized by the judicial law under the Old Testament. The second is, that the emancipation of slaves need not to be sudden, but gradual, lest the possessors of them should be too much impoverished, and lest the free inhabitants might be exposed to danger, if the blacks were all liberated at
If the first of these concessions is admitted as just, namely, that if slavery in its present form was allowed of under the old Testament, the practice may be defended under the New, because every precept of the judicial law, must have had the mo. ral law for its basis, so as in no respect to contradict it. If then slavery in its present form was morally just under the Old Testament, it must be just under the New, for the moral law is as unchangeable as God himself.
If the second of these concessions is just, to wit: the emancipation of slaves ought not to be sudden, but gradual, to prevent the peral evils of poverty and other distresses which might accrue to the inhabitants in general; it will go to justify the practice of slaveholding, because the only motive that men can have to practice slavery, is that it may be a means of preventing poverty and other penal evils. If the fear of poverty or any penal sufferings will exculpate the possessors of slaves from blame, for a few months or years, it will do it for life; and if some may be lawfully held to labor without wages, all may be held the same way; and if the principle of slavery is morally wrong, it ought not to be practiced to avoid any penal evil, but if just, even the cruel treatment of slaves would not condemn the practice. The subject then which at this time calls forth the utmost exertions of the friends of humanity, is the great crimi. nality of slaveholding, or to shew the extreme guilt of that man who occupies the office and station of a slaveholder although he should treat his slaves with the utmost humanity as slaves. Agreeable to these remarks, the following treatise will be introduced with an inquiry concerning the moral law, considered as the law of nature, which binds all men to act conformably to its precepts, and condemns every practice or habit, that is not in every respect agreeable to its dictates. Then, in order to pre. pare the subject for an impartial examination, will be given a definition of slavery, with a delineation of the office and power of a slaveholder. If any reader should feel disposed to call in question the correctness of those definitions, let him suspend his judgment till he turns over to the appendix at the close of this work, where he will find some extracts from the laws of Kentucky and Virginia relative to slaves, which will prove those definitions to be perfectly correct.
This attempt to overthrow the principle of slavery will consist of some abstract demonstrations, and some plain scriptural arguments. Those of the abstract kind will be twenty-nine in number, every one of which, it is hoped, if carefully examined, will be found to be conclusive. One argument, if fair and just, is sufficient to establish a position, with an enlightened and unprejudiced mind; but when we consider that many readers are the opposite of both, a subject may be of that importance, as to require all the collective force of argumentation that can be mustered to lead such to conviction. As the subject of slavery is.of the highest importance, and deeply concerns the temporal and eternal states of men, it merits the greatest attention, and will call for a proportional degree of demonstration, both from scripture and abstract principles, to convince the guilty of its crimi
The design of this work is to persuade all that are engaged in the business of holding their fellow creatures in a state of unmerited involuntary slavery, that they are guilty of a crime, not only of the highest aggravation, but one, that if persisted in, will inevitably lead them to perdition,