12: Slave-Keeping Very Opposite to the Doctrine of Christ

Matthew 7:17–18A good tree cannot bear evil fruit.

Luke 8:14–15: Not many slave-keepers bring forth fruit to perfection.

Romans 7:5: I am much afraid slave-keeping will bring forth fruits to the death.

Romans 6:20: Are not slave-keepers the servants of sin?

Romans 6:21: Are our slave-keepers ashamed of their sin?

Romans 6:22: Are our slave-keepers free from sin?

Titus 1:9: Are slave-keepers able to convince the gainsayers?

Titus 1:10: Are not slave-keepers of the circumcision, unruly vain talkers?

Titus 1:11: Do not slave-keepers subvert whole houses for filthy lucre?

Titus 1:12: Are not slave-keepers liars, evil beasts, slow bellies?

Titus 1:13: Don’t they deserve to be rebuked sharply, as being very unfound in the faith?

Titus 1:14: Don’t these give away to Jewish fables, and turn from truth? What think ye, my brethren?

Titus 1:15Unto the pure all things are pure; if literally, then robbing and killing, as well as slave-keeping.

Titus 1:16: Do not these deny God in works and yet pretend to know him?

Titus 2:7: Have these men found doctrine gravity and sincerity?

Titus 2:8: Have not these men of the contrary part need to be ashamed, when we have so many evil things to say of them, under very justly too?

Titus 2:10: Do these adorn the doctrine of God our Savior with slave-keeping? I think in my very soul, it is more agreeable to the devil.

Proverbs 24:23–26: He that saith to such wicked ones, “thou art righteous”: him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him. But to them that rebuke: them shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them

But, my Friends, you that practice tyranny and oppression for slave-keeping is such. He that assumes in arbitrary manner, unjustly, dominion over his fellow-creature’s liberty and property—contrary to law, reason, or equity—he is a wicked, sinful tyrant, guilty of oppression and great iniquity. But he that trades in slaves and the souls of men, does so; therefore. . .  Besides, Friends, the very name of the tyrant is odious—to God, to good men, yea to bad men too—and the nature and practice is much worse.

And Friends, you that follow this forlorn, filthy practice, do you not consider that you are opening the door to others? Or setting them an example to do the like by you—whenever it shall please the Almighty to suffer them to have power over us, as a scourge to us for our sins? What reason then shall we have to complain? If any of you ever read the history of the English slaves in Algiers, how would you like that yourselves?  There was some discourse of its being printed in Philadelphia; I wish it might, for the sake of some.

The sea-monsters draw out their breast to their young (Lamentations 4:3), but you draw out the sword to young and old, middle-aged and all (save what you cannot come at), or cause it to be done so. And yet them that die by the sword are better (Lamentations 4:9) than them you bring away and starve. For these pine away for want of the fruits of the field, and by other severities.

My dear wife has often spoke of a passage, in or near Spikes’s [Speightstown] in Barbados, going hastily into a very plain-coat-outside Friend’s house: there hung up a Negro stark naked, trembling and shivering, with such a flood of blood under him, that so surprised the little woman she could scarce contain. But at last a little recovering, she says to some in the family, “What’s here to do?” They began exclaiming against the poor, miserable creature for absconding a day or two—maybe by reason of his cruel usage, as by this barbarity we may imagine.

Another piece of barbarity, of one Richard Parrot, a cooper which I knew. He used to whip his Negroes on Second Day [Monday] mornings very severely, to keep them in awe. It is usual for these miserable slaves to get together on First Days, to bewail and lament their forlorn condition that they are in one to another. One says, “My master very bad man.” Another: “My mistress very bad woman.” This Parrot’s Negro—a lusty fellow, a cooper and used to get his master seven shillings and sixpence a day, being valued at 100 pounds or more—he says: “My master Parrot very bad man indeed. Whippe, whippe poor Negro evee Munne morning for notin’ tall! Me no bear no longer.” So he hangs himself on First Day at night, because he would not be “whippe Munne morning.” This was while we lived in Barbados. I knew Parrot very well, having been at his house. And abundance more of such like things while we abode there.

1736, the 29th of the Eighth Month [October], this morning between 2 and 3 this was written:

It arose in my mind in love of Truth: that as the blessed immaculate Lamb was said to be the only begotten of the Father, full of grace, and full of truth  (John 1:14), so slave-keeping and trading is the only begotten of the devil, full of all ungraciousness and all untruth—the true child and heir of hell, the only begotten of the devil indeed, but not in Truth nor any part of it.

As it is written, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee (Psalm 2:7, so may the devil say by slave-keeping.

As God gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in him might have everlasting Life (John 3:16), so the devil gives his only begotten child, the merchandise of slaves and souls of men (Revelation 18:13), that whosoever believes and trades in it might have everlasting damnation.

Again, it is written: though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you have not many fathers, I may say so, for in Christ have I begotten you through the gospel (1 Corinthians 4:15). So may many of our ministers say to the Negro-traders and -keepers: “you have we begotten through the devil, by our example and pleading for it, and by our condemning and disowning many worthy Friends of innocent lives for testifying against it and against us for living and continuing in it; but we will do it for all that. What do we care for their testimony? Shall we, our wives or sons or daughters, when our fellow-merchants (of Mystery, Babylon the Great) come to visit us, run to wait on them, their horses, their chariots and equipage—cooking, sculling, and waiting? No! We despite it and them that do it. We will have our slaves and souls of men to do it for us, as our mother has and had in all ages of the world. And it was their glory, and it is ours, and we will have it. And we, our wives, sons, daughters, kindred, and our fellow-merchants—that are great and honorable men of renown—shall sit and live like kings and queens that know no sorrow.

I must confess: that as Paul had begotten one in his bonds (Philemon 1:10), for Christ’s sake to Christ, so those above-mentioned have begotten many, yea very many, in their bonds for the devil and Mammon’s sake to the devil and his kingdom.

We may safely say without breach of charity: by these prophets or ministers before-mentioned—as Micaiah said by Ahab’s four hundred false prophets (Kings 22:23)—that there is a lying spirit in the mouths of all them that keep or trade in slaves, and say it is lawful in this blessed gospel day. Let them pretend to what they will or may. Whether hearers or prophets or preachers, although there be or should be four hundred or four thousand of them, no matter for their great number: the Truth is over them all. Although them that are and were out of the Truth have fallen and may fall by their means, by their lying persuasions—I say their great and lying pretensions—[they] have and may and will cause many more, I fear, to fall, as well as the other false prophets did Ahab and many others, as we may read of in scripture and elsewhere plentifully, as in the case of Jezebel’s eight hundred and fifty false prophets, which Elijah slew, (1 Kings 18:19).