If this—Revelation 13—should be proved applicable to our present slave-keepers, what will they do? My Soul is concerned for them on the Truth’s account.
Revelation 13:1: And I stood upon the sand of the sea (by the side of the water, which are people), and saw a beast (the beastly nature), rise up out of the sea (or people), having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns (very glorious), and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. (The beastly nature: blasphemies against the divine nature upon his heads, atop of all, he is not ashamed of its like, but glories in it.)
Verse 2: And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard (full of spots: causes me to think of the first of Isaiah), and his feet were as the feet of a bear (to tear and rent), and his mouth as the mouth of a lion (roar against all that oppose them): and the (furious) dragon gave him (the nasty beast) his power, and his seat (his chair to sit in as chief judge), and great authority (to rule over almost all the congregation in America).
Verse 3: And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death (some part of the beastly nature subdued); and his deadly wound was healed (he got over his convictions by custom and covetousness and, being a little wiser than some others in the wisdom that is from below, he could preach so excellently as if he could almost make slave-keeping agreeable with the purity and holiness of the gospel of Christ Jesus, our Lord): and all the world (in the fallen nature) wondered after the beast.
Verse 4: And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast (he being very terrible to some; if not for love, for fear, as I have heard some Indians do the devil): and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him (that is so strong and reigns long)?
Verse 5: And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies (to be sure or else it would not do); and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. (But these have been longer, counting a year for a month: O saith my soul: if it were the will of God Almighty that it might soon come to an end!)
Verse 6: And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God (to be sure, because God’s ways and doings are equity: pure, just, and true; his ways iniquity: filthy, unjust, a lie), to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. (The tabernacle of God is with men and in men, and they that dwell with God in a pure heart, they dwell in heaven and have fellowship with the Father and with the Son and with saints and angels, and they know him that is true and are in him that is true.) [Ed.: Franklin edition cites Hebrews 12:22–24.]
Verse 7: (The dragon, beast, whore, and false prophet don’t like this doctrine.) And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them (for a time, or else how came so many worthy Friends to be disowned publicly, and more, many more privately and subtly insinuated against, for no other reason that I can find, but for declaring against the vilest practice that ever the beast brought into the church of Christ in these countries: slave-keeping?); and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations (no doubt).
Verse 8: And all that dwell upon the earth (in the earthly nature unredeemed) shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Verse 9: If any man have an ear, let him hear.
Verse 10: He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity (What do my dear Friends think of this? whose salvation I desire as my own soul.); he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. (Do not we kill, when we receive the plunder and send the villains for more, who are too forward of themselves? Dear Friends, bear with me, are we not worse than they? We appear very religious and demure, preaching against iniquity and vice; they appear to be what they are: the worst of villains, the worst of robbers and murderers.) Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
Verse 11: And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb (very demure seemingly; but soon angry), and he spake as a dragon (if he was contradicted, like the craftsmen at Ephesus.)
Verse 12: And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein (earthly minded souls) to worship the first beast, whole deadly wound was healed. (Got over the reproofs of instruction, which is the way to Life, so came again to worship the beast’s image. O sorrowful indeed it is, for many tender souls to think of.)
Verse 13: And doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth, in sight of (earthly minded) men (as if the Fire, Light and Life of the living Word, which was and is God, was with them in their ministry, in our meetings).
Verse 14: And deceiveth them that dwell on (or in) the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth (beast does miracles; it may seem so to the beastly minded; the second demure beast with his two horns like a lamb, would have) that they should make an image to the (first) beast, which had the wound by a sword (the Word of God, but got over it), and did live (the life of the beast again. Let them that read understand.)
Verse 15: And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast (it may seem so to the fallen nature), that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. (Turn him out, persecutor of the church, a sower of discord among brethren, will he not worship the image of the beast. I fear greatly we have too many such images in our meetings, or devilish covetousness in the stealers or else I am mistaken; O that I were. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. Ephesians 4:14]).
Verse 16: And causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond (spares none), to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads (that he may know his own, and not join with the Lamb, his enemy. The holy Lamb won’t receive them into his fold that have the beast mark. Pray, my dear Friends, what is more or so much the beast mark as slave-keeping and a false ministry?)
Verse 17: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Is it not so now in our church discipline? How many have been opposed in [Quaker] Meetings for Business which could not receive the beast mark in buying and selling slaves and souls of men—the very worst part of the idolatry: the grand old whore’s wares or merchandise?)
Verse 18: Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding, count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man, and his number is six hundred three-score and six (about the age of some old men, so many months, all pointing to the beastly nature in man, as I humbly conceive, or the wisdom that is from below, which the Man of God calls earthly devilish. Some men now, as well as of old, know nothing but what they know naturally as brute beasts.)
Well, my dear Friends, I hope and know better things of many of you, and things which accompany salvation, though I thus write and sincerely wish it might be so with all. They that worship the beast or his image or receive his mark must be so tormented (Revelation 14:9–10).
Abington, the 5th of the Seventh Month [September] 1736:
It was well said of one: Where the Truth of God suffers, there Unity is schism, church government is tyranny, and the church is rout.
Psalm 133: A glorious and precious thing indeed, is true unity. But I know no stronger bulwark the devil has against it in the church of Christ than slave-keeping, and all the train of abominable filthiness which does and will attend it and is inseparable from it (especially in ministers), who by their foul example have led (I suppose) many hundreds, if not thousands into the snare, and will many, yea very many more, if there is not some more effectual and speedy care taken to prevent, withstand, and suppress so potent and enemy as it is, both in church and state.
What I pray and beseech you, my dear Friends—whose Love and Unity in the gospel fellowship, which is sweet and precious, pure and peaceable, easy to be entreated—this I say is what I desire more than all the world or a thousand lives, let people say what they please of me or my proceedings, for the Truth’s sake and all my fellow creatures’ present and eternal welfare, my witness is in heaven, and Truth’s dear Friends whose Unity is precious to me and sometimes overcoming in the pure precious Life of the Lamb: What, I say, will become of the innumerable off-spring that are coming up, if all should have slaves to do their work within doors and without, as many have? They might or may perish for want of business, to get a piece of bread or a coat to put on, in the next generation and so on without end? O hard lot! I have been often asked “what shall we do?” If it is so hard now, what will you do when they are more increased, for they grow on us, as in other places.
Isaiah 3:8–9, Isaiah 3:16, Ezekiel 22:12–13 to the end, Ezekiel 22:25–29.
Hebrews 13:1–3: Some entertain strangers, slaves, not very much like angels, but after a hellish manner. How do our demure slave-keepers remember them that are in bonds as bound with them? Except as slaves are bound to them, so they to the devil. And stronger, for as death loosens one, it fastens the other in eternal torments if not repented and forsaken.
2 Peter 1:5–10: But he that lacketh these things is blind and cannot see afar off. What will become of posterity? And hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins and yet continues preaching with great demurity. O where is these people’s love? For they have cast down many wounded and drawn many into the snare by their bad example, and twisting and straining scripture, and all to cover their sin.
Well my dear Friends, I can truly say with great sincerity, I write these things not to offend, but to inform, caution, and advise them that are concerned, to pray to the Lord for wisdom and strength of faith, to quit their hands of them before it is too late. A day of vengeance will come.
We are apt to blame pirates for stealing some of our goods and merchandise. And it may be they have many of them been brought up and instructed in that which is a hundred times worse: that cursed Guinea trade.
O! O! That my soul could find some relief for the distress that is hath been in for seventeen years and more at times, on this sad account. But if Friends will not hear: O believe me, mine eyes shall weep sore in secret.
Because the Lord’s camp is in captivity. For they that keep captives are in captivity and bondage, and bring many of their Friends, male and female, into bondage, because of their sin and continuing in it.
Your fathers have built a wall of iniquity; and you are daubing it with untempered mortar, in keeping slaves and pleading for it. O vile and shameless practice, which we ought to be separated from, especially ministers and elders, whose example is ten times worse than others. “Such worthy Friends as them! Sure I may as well as he?” says the unthinking covetous atheist, and maybe some sober-minded amongst all professions [of faith]. So here the leprosy spreads, and it spreads more and more. But dear Friends, what shall we do in the end thereof? For, my dear Friends, I think it is easy to prove that there is as great disproportion between slave-keeping—take it root and branch, and all the sad fruit it brings forth—as there is between Light and darkness, Christ and Belial.
2 Corinthians, 6th Chapter: Read in the fear and love of God our Savior.
Ezekiel 13:10 to the end: One built a wall; the others daub it, wresting [it], and, as a nose of wax, perverting scripture to justify, excuse, or connive at keeping slaves. Here’s work for ministers!
Revelation 13:1–11: The beast that came up out of the earth with two horns like a lamb—very demure—speaks like a dragon, if it’s opposed. So do our slave-keeping ministers, to my certain knowledge. They cry out sadly against Ralph Sandiford’s Mystery of Iniquity, which he writ in the fear of God and his fellow creatures, which has kept many out of the damned snare. He that doubteth is damned: what is not of faith is sin.
Genesis 13:7–9: And Abram said unto Lot, “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee . . . for we be brethren. . . . Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then will I go to the left.
Leviticus 22:1–3. Numbers 6:1–3. Numbers 16:20–26. 1 Kings 8:53. Ezra 10:10–14. Exodus 33:15–16.