The 1st of the Ninth Month [November] 1737:
Early this morning it was given me to see, that all slave-keepers—and traders with them for gain—were apostates which pretended to be Christians. Especially in ministers it is a double crime, because of their bad example to their flock. For all such have the mark of the beast, whore, and false prophet on them: “Mystery, Babylon, Mother of Harlots” (Revelation 17:5). Let them preach as long as they will or may.
Oh Israel! thy leaders cause thee to err, by their lies and their lightness! (Isaiah 9:16). Oh how mine eyes have seen some of the first rank sit and stand and laugh—preachers and others, when I have been speaking of the bondage and miserable captivity of their poor slaves—in as light and airy a manner as any boy in the town need to do! Persons male and female, eminent in the church, Friends of renown in their generation and congregation: long custom and covetousness having made the sin, although so very gross, so easy and familiar to them.
Some of which I do verily believe have known the pure Presence of the divine Lord of life and glory, his holy Light and blessed Truth in their souls. Yet afterwards become vain in their imaginations: to think slave-keeping was lawful. So their foolish hearts became darkened and hardened again worse than ever. Oh that is a sorrowful condition: to have the greatest mark of the apostacy in the world upon them, and not to know or believe it!
When I say All Slave-Keepers Apostates, I mean: them that keep innocent men, women, and children in everlasting bondage.
As to petty criminals that will not or cannot make restitution, I think—as well as many other tender Friends and people fearing God and loving his creation, their fellow-creatures—although very wicked, that they had better be kept in bondage (Exodus 22:3) that by hard labor they might be brought to repentance and amendment of life in order to a happy death, [rather] than to put them to death in their sins. For in the grave there is no repentance. But hard labor and mean living is an antidote to luxury and idleness. And captivity—the reverse of nature—might prevent a great deal of wickedness in the world, and bring many unthinking creatures to remember and prepare for their latter end before it be too late, which I should rejoice to see.