08: Korah and Company—250 Men of Renown—Withstood Moses; Much More Slave-Keepers Withstand the Truth

Some indeed may insinuate Numbers 16 against us, but what if Korah the son of Lobar did, with his company of 250, withstand Moses? They were princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown, as we are many of us. What if Moses did fall on his face and weep before the Lord with Aaron and others? And if the Lord threatened to destroy the whole company, what of that? He did not. What if the earth did open and swallow up Korah, and a fire from the Lord consumed others? Yet we may take notice, the congregation was not pleased—the rebellious party—for they murmured against Moses and Aaron, saying, “Ye, have killed the Lord’s people, or people of the Lord.”

It is also true there were 14,700 slain by plague of the murmurers and rebels, beside them that died about the matter of Korah. But it is not, nor hath been so with us yet. And we have been in this practice—that some few poor fellows make such a stir about—above fifty years. Poor people, which cannot purchase them, so pretend conscience in the case. But let them that oppose our practice in Negroes bring those things upon us as above-mentioned. If they can, then people may believe they are in the right and we are in the wrong.

But let us consider by the way, brethren, if we go on arguing after this manner, some may be ready to object that blasphemous saying of our elder brethren concerning Christ: If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in him (Matthew 27:41–43). It is true the objection is just, and it may be a parallel case: But what shall we do, for people begin to see as clearly as when the sun is in its meridian throne, young people as well as old, that this practice of ours is as directly opposite to our holy principles as Light is to darkness, Christ to Belial, or God to the devil?

If the case be thus, dear brethren—as to be sure it is—how shall we stand our ground? Our ground, I say! It is true we may keep our meeting houses for a time and we may join forces with them that are in the Negro practice. In strict unity among ourselves and with any other dear friends of our own mind, relations, customers, chapmen, workmen, or others that we can have any influence over—Quakers or no Quakers—if they will but come to [Quaker] Meetings and do as we do, if not say as we say and plead for said sad hell-practice. Or at least—gentleman-like—connive, palliate, and dissemble to extenuate the crime. And we will with all our might, interest, and strength put forth, keep out, and hinder or prevent coming into our synagogues any that will oppose or condemn our practice, or us for continuing in it.

And further, as we have the power of [congregational] discipline, our ministers are forced and must of necessity come to us for certificates or letters to recommend them, which we are very ready to give if they are fit for our turn and practice, and very good ones too. If they be but very poorly qualified in words, and worse in conduct and life, yet they’ll serve a small turn. When he or she have got their passport, one or other of us—a trusty brother without-doors—will give them the hint before they go forth: That if they should chance to meet—or go on purpose where they are to be found or heard of—any of the heavenly party that is against our hellish practice (or hellish party that is against our heavenly practice, for it is heavenly to us, it is comfort and joy to us, and we delight in it greatly and will keep in it!) and maybe: 

“My dear Friend, we will give thee a little memorandum in thy pocket of places and persons which will be a great help to thee, poor dear creature, thy dear mind being so much exercised about other good things that thou mayst chance to forget some other matters though they be weighty. And wherever thou meets with any such as are above-mentioned, when thee comes near their dwellings—which thee may chance to hear of by strict inquiry—inform Friends against them whatever thee can. Though the name of an informer be odious, yet in some cases it is thought necessary, as in this. But be sure when thou comes in thy testimony: thresh them going, spare them not. And if any speak to thee after [a] Meeting about it, say: ‘If the coat fits thee, put it on. I had no particular in view.’ This is and has been the practice of many worthy Friends. So they hide themselves and strengthen our party bravely. So be it.” say they.     

Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit (Matthew 7: 17) Is there any eviler fruit in the world than slave-keeping? Anything more devilish? It is of the very nature of hell itself, and is the belly of hell.

A good tree cannot bring forth such cursed evil fruit (Matthew 7:18) as slave-trading: if this practice be the worst, the greatest sin in the world (with what goes and grows with it) as it is, to be sure. But if any should say that good trees, good men, may be in this practice and encourage it, and if they may bring forth such fruit, what fruit must evil trees bring forth? This will not hold by a parity of reason: comparing things with things by an equality, it will not hold good in any case, much less in a religious sense. There it is very odious, to be sure, and is very foul in ministers especially. Let them keep on their sheep’s clothing, and preach and pray as long as they may, until their tongues are weary and their hearers’ ears too. They’ll preach more to hell, I firmly believe, than they will to heaven, while they continue in said practice.