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their simpering, mawkish sentiment, and withal their arrogant assumptions : are these not miserable libels on the system of Jesus ? And have they not done more to promote infidelity than books constructed for infidel purposes ? Give me the book which makes no mention of Christianity, or the book that introduces it professedly to degrade it, rather than the book which seeks to promote it, but contains nothing of its grandeur of conception, freedom of spirit, and nobleness of soul. When we take, therefore, from modern literature these classes, what a small portion we have left that is at all suited to help on the cause of truth, and raise the spiritual man to his fitting destiny ! Besides this quantity of antagonistic book-literature, what an immense tide of periodical writing of the most deleterious description is flowing forth every hour through the very heart of the world ! Is not this a potent reason for Christians to rouse themselves to action in relation to the press? As long as we have all this against us, we are in our attempts to evangelize the world like a frail barque struggling against a strong head wind, and a surging tide.
Thirdly and lastly, another reason why we should set to heart and head work in this matter is, the supreme claims of Christianity. She has the most absolute right to an ascendency over the world's mindshe is divinely commissioned, and divinely fitted to cast down imaginations, and everything that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. She has subjects that tower in sublimity above the highest genius; instructions for the most advanced intelleot; principles that solve the deepest problems of our destiny; promises more than commensurating the world's aspirations; a spirit infinitely transcending in freedom and love man's highest dictates of liberty or notions of goodwill. The greatest minds have acknowledged her superiority. Paul had traversed the literary domains of the old world. He had culled the choicest flowers from the writings of Hebrew Rabbis and Grecian literati; but when he entered the field of Christian discoveries, plucked the rose of Sharon and the Lily of the valley, all other flowers lost their fragrance and their beauty: 'I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.'
We entreat thee, thoughtful reader, to help us to raise Christianity to a supreme dominion in literature—to help us in hastening the period, when the attributes of Christ shall adorn the hero of every tale, and His spirit be the music of every song; when history shall trace every event to His throne; and science and philosophy unite in His praise.
Philemon, the Christian Slavr-Plaster.
In the records of Christianity we meet with some types of character that are now formally extinct, at least, in Europe, as the Pythoness, the maker of Demetrian shrines, the exorcist, and the sorcerer. The great bulk of its characters are, however, still existent among us, though modified with our new circumstances; and among the latter class, may be mentioned, the humiliating specimen of the Christian slave-master. It is, we admit, only by identifying ourselves with the transatlantic portion of the Christian Teutonic family that it can be literally said we have still Christian slave-masters; and some of our readers would, perhaps, rather disown the national kindred, than admit complicity in the traffic of Christian brethren, or even in that of ordinary men.
Philemon appears to have been a wealthy citizen of Colosse, a large city on the banks of the Lycus, which, after dipping into the earth, falls into the famous Meander. It is one of the remarkable facts of classical history, that so little remains to us of a town in proximity to the memorable temple of Cybele, and to the Gordian knot; and which itself was the birth-place of many eminent men. Whether the history of this city perished with it by the earthquake in the 10th of Nero, which destroyed Colosse and Laodicea, or whether the record was lost among the other valuable descriptions of the empire by the conflagration of the temple of Vesta, we have no means of knowing. It is, however, a fact that we scarcely know anything of this Colosse, in which one of the earliest and most flourishing Christian churches existed, beyond the circumstance that it was one of the foci of Phrygian refinement, where Oriental luxury and Grecian philosophy combined to debauch the manners and to imbase the thinking of the inhabitants, the conversion of any considerable number of whom to the pure doctrines of the gospel was, therefore, all but a miracle. From an expression that occurs Philem. 19, “Thou owest unto me even thine own self, some have imagined that Paul and Philemon were old acquaintances, and that in the former battle of life this wealthy slave-master had been saved by Paul from some imminent personal peril; we, however, rather believe that the apostle, whose views of spiritual obligation to our teachers were as bold as his doctrines were lucid, only refers to the fact that by his services Philemon had passed from the life of mental bondage and pollution, that were inseparable from any form of idolatry, to the knowledge of Christ. Nor are we quite sure that the general opinion of Philemon's wealth is well founded. His having one or more slaves is not sufficient proof; for the value of a slave then did not exceed 31. or 41. of our money. There is more ground for this opinion, in the fact that he had a church his house;' which, whether we apply to the numerous Christ. members of his household, or to his spacious habitation, that admirs,
the constant appropriation of a part to the religious uses of the Colossian Christians, favours the conclusion that Philemon was a citizen of substance. Some have thought that the facts admitted by Paul in the seventh verse of his Epistle, also establish this point; but we must remember that so pure was the heaven-drawn life of many of the Christians in those days, that selfdom, whether hidden in the person, the love of family or friends, was overcome by that diviner love that enabled even poor Christians, 'out of their abundant poverty,' to feed the hungry and to refresh the saints. We may, with more confidence, conclude from the esteem in which he was held by Paul's eminent companions then at Rome that Philemon was a man of eminent and well-tested piety, though it is probable we should never have heard of his name, but for the incident of his connexion with the fugitive Onesimus. On how fragile materials has Christianity built a renown co-extensive with time, for some of its adherents! The widow's two mites; Mary's unguent shed upon the feet of Jesus; the stolen conversation of Nicodemus by night; the climbing of Zaceheus into the sycamore; and the poor woman whose tremulous logic urged her to touch but the hem of his garment,' in this particular harmonize with the immortality conferred on Philemon. The vast passion for posthumous renown that has sought fame in sacked cities, and towering columns, seems seldom to have thought how easily fame is obtained through the lowly paths of Christian life. This, indeed, is the king's highway' to immortality.
We have no means of knowing how Philemon became possessed of his slaves, whether by a share in the spoils of war, by purchase, or by inheritance; nor whether his possession of them at all had ever awakened in his conscience the question of his right. This vital question in our modern religion, had probably not then arisen ; though there can be no doubt that among the wealthy disciples of Christ, there must have been many in the same condition with Philemon. The was evidently a three-fold system of liberty-spiritual, intellectual, and political; and though the two latter forms of it were only couched in the first, the statesmen and priesthoods of that day saw sufficient of its tendencies to abhor its doctrines, and to determine their policy of repressing its disciples.
But is the character of a Christian compatible with that of a dealer in slaves ? Certainly not. Slavery requires the dominion of ignorance, it necessitates vice, and can only be upheld by oppression ; with all of which the Christian verity wages interminable war. The two elements can never permanently cohere, for they are hostile in essence. Whatsoever things are pure, just, and true, the gospel of Christ is pledged to bring into universal practice among men. Its progressive course is sure, and hitherto has generally been slow. God in his government has always given the enemy all advantages, and allows men to try every expedient by which they imagine they can attain to power and honour. The forbearant spirit of Christianity with some of the evils that it evidently intends to destroy in our days, marked its early history. Slavery was a fearful condition of men; but other evils
which fostered and protected that slavery, must be first assailed. Freedom can only dwell with truth; but gross darkness then lay upon all nations. It was, therefore, the first duty and the highest policy of the primitive Christianity to spread the light that had come into the world, and to justify its diffusion by the glorious moral changes it effected in the individual man. Thus bigamy, the Circus, the Olympic, the harlotry, the passion for war, gluttony, and drunkenness, great and monstrous as these evils were, had to be for a time apparently unnoticed. All true reform are developments of prudence. It was enough for the moment to demolish all the gods of the Pantheon; to denounce their priesthoods as impostors; to declare a new Legislator paramount to all monarchs ; to affirm, that the next step after death was not annihilation, but glory and eternal life, or a doom of deathless misery. Christianity is eminently economic. It never does too much.
As Its records are distinguished by a sparing, but a vast wisdom. John finely and shrewdly says, · The world would not have contained,' if the first disciples had not been economic in their relations; and slavery, with the other evils that were notched, to be felled in due time, was left for the present, ostensibly; but it was causally destroyed, as we shall see.
Some of our readers may be asking the question, Did not Paul, in remitting Onesimus to his master, countenance slavery ? A very important point, capable, we think, of satisfactory explication. Onesimus, by the early Christians, was said not only to have absconded from his master, but to have robbed him ; at all events, he seems to have been a useless slave, for Paul admits that in time past he was unprofitable to thee. Having become converted hy the apostle's ministry, Onesimus became the brother of his old master, Philemon. To him it was necessary that he should make restitution if he had stolen his property, and apology for whatever there might have been in his conduct improper. So much was due to the credit of the Christian name. Christianity was not a sanctuary-ground for the vagabond, but for the brokenhearted. Paul, therefore, dismissed Onesimus to his master, but not with the view of returning him to slavery. The tenor of his epistle evidently is hostile to this supposition. He stipulates rather for his freedom—•Whatever he oweth thee, put that to mine account;' and he writes like a man who delicately entreats a favour which he did not think it prudent to solicit formally. Onesimus is reported by some early writers to have been, prior to his escape, a member of the Colossian Church, but that he had acted unworthily. If that were a fact, by doing evil that good may come,' he had violated one of the explicit laws of Christian morality. Now that he was recovered, therefore, it was due to the credit of Onesimus himself, and to the feelings of Philemon, that the fugitive slave should make this visit to his master, who obviously entered into the spirit of Paul's letter, and returned Onesimus to the apostle's service. The apostle, therefore, acted only in accordance with his profound and ordinary prudence ; and it was necessary to prevent the scandal, that he harboured runaway slaves. How prodigiously difficult a life was that of the Christian in those days !
Let us now glance at the relation of Christianity to the slavery of that age, and ascertain whether it sanctioned, or connived, or opposed it; and in what manner? Aristotle, in a certain part of his ethical disquisitions, describes the relation which the slave of those times bore to his master in his well-known ο δούλος έμψυχον όργανον το δ' όργανον á fuxos doūdos—that is, the relation between the workman and his tool, the soul and the body, or the man and his horse. Slaves were not regarded as men, but as things. To how appalling an extent the Roman law authorized this hideous doctrine may be seen from the senseless severity, that if one of his slaves murdered a master, all the other slaves in the household, without regard to sex, age, virtue, or condition, were to be destroyed; and Tacitus, in An. 1. xiv. c. 42, tells a story how in carrying out this barbarous decree, on a particular occasion, the populace were so disgusted and excited that the authorities were compelled to stop the carnage. Alexander, who pretended to give liberty to the nations, when he destroyed Thebes, sold all its inhabitants into slavery. Vedius Pollio threw refractory slaves into his fish-ponds to fatten his lampreys. Camillus sold his Etrurian victims into slavery to repay the Roman ladies who had subscribed their jewels in sacrifice to the gods at the outset of the war. In the play, Euripides represents Hecuba as chained at the gates of Agamemnon, and that in Athens. A slave could acquire no property, nor inherit or bequeath any, according to the Roman law; nor was his evidence valid in a court of justice.
It was impossible for Christianity to be friendly to a system like this, which, however, prevailed more or less through the civilized world in the days of the apostle. Some steps were inevitable—either Christianity must connive at the system which would have proved an insuperable barrier to its progress, or oppose the nuisance.
But how oppose it, without magnifying the disastrous lot of the captives? If the apostles had proclaimed open warfare with the evil, they would have brought themselves into direct collision with the universal magistracy; and, be. sides, would not only have originated a servile war, but have inflicted a grievous wrong on the Christian name. The voice of inspiration was not, however, silent. “If thou mayest be made free, use it rather,' contains the decree, prudently shrouded for the occasion, but still, the glorious decree, that Christianity was the foe of slavery, and would eventually destroy it; and, without delay, the enterprise was commenced which, though not yet consummated, is rapidly advancing in the old and the new world. But as the doctrines of the gospel were all peculiar, so was the mode by which it commenced its aggression on the domains of slavery.
1. By declaring the common origin of the human race, as taught by Paul in his . Of one blood God hath made all the nations of men,' the Christian system virtually affirmed the brotherhood of the human race.
This doctrine was diametrically adverse to all the received opinions of the sages of antiquity. Our readers of Aristotle, Plutarch, Pliny, and even Plato, will remember the nonsense to which these glorious authors gave utterance, when they spoke either of the origin of mankind, or the divisions and classes into which it was broken. Not only did they know not God,' they knew nothing morally and his