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such things after him as are necessary for the bath ; he unclothes him, washes, anoints, rubs, dresses him, puts on his shoes, and lifts him up from the earth. But mean as these services are, the humble and self-denied
precurs sor of Jesus did not think himself worthy to perform them to his Lord : “ He that cometh after me is mightier than I ; whose shoes I am not worthy to bear.”d. These were the offices of the meanest slave, which that holy man thought himself unworthy to perform towards his Savi. our; so high was his admiration of his character, and so lowly were the thoughts he entertained of himself.
It was a general custom in the east to brand their slaves in the forehead, as being the most exposed ; sometimes in other parts of the body. The common way of stigma. tizing was by burning the member with a red hot iron, marked with certain letters, till a fair impression was made, and then pouring ink into the furrows, that the inscription might be more conspicuous. Slaves were often branded with marks, or letters, as a punishment of their offences ; but the most common design of these marks was to distinguish them if they should desert their masters. For the same reason, it was common to brand their sol diers, but with this difference, that while slaves were marked in the hand, with the name, or some peculiar character belonging to their masters ; soldiers were marked in the hand with the name or character of their general. In the same manner, it was the custom to stigmatize the worshippers and votaries of some false gods. Lucian af. firms, that the worshippers of the Syrian goddess, were all branded with certain marks, some in the palms of their hands, and others in their necks. To this practice may be traced the custom, which became so prevalent among the Syrians, thus to stigmatize themselves ; and Theodoret is of opinion, that the Jews were forbidden to brand their bodies with stigmata, because the idolaters, by that ceremony, used to consecrate themselves to their false deities. The marks employed on these occasions were: various. Sometimes they contained the name of the god; sometimes his particular ensign, as the thunderbolt of Jupiter, the trident of Neptune, the ivy of Bacchus : or they marked themselves with some mystical number, which described the name of the god. Thus the sun, who was denoted by the number DC VIII. is said to been represented by these two numeral letters XH. These three ways of stigmatizing, are all expressed by the apostle John in the book of Revelation : “ And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads : 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
a Harmer's Observ. vol. iv, p. 296, 297.
The followers of the beast received a mark in their right hand, because they ranged themselves under his banners, ready to support his interests, and extend his dominions with fire and sword; they bore the name of their general, the bishop of Rome, detuvos, and the number of his name, which is 666. But they also received the mark of slaves on their foreheads, to denote that they
Rev. xiii, 16. Potter's Gr. Antiq. vol. i, p. 65, 66.—The Hindoos, after ablutions, receive in their forehead the mark either of Visnou or Seva, horizontal or perpendicular, according to the sect they profess. It is made from a composition of sandal wood, turmeric, and cow-dung. Forbes's Orient. Mem. vol. i, p. 286.—This is a holy ceremony which has been adopted in all ages by the eastern nations, however differing in religious profession. Vol. iii, p. 15. See also Maurice's Indian Antiq. vol. v, p. 82.
were his absolute property, whom he arrogated a right to dispose of according to his pleasure ; who could neither buy nor sell, live with comfort, nor die in peace, without his permission. But they were not only soldiers and slaves; they were also devotees, that regarded and acknowledged him as a god, and even exalted him above all that is called God and is worshipped; in token of which, they received a mark in the palm of their hand, or in their foreheads. The practice of marking the soldier and the devotee, although of great antiquity, may be traced to one origin, to a cụstom still more ancient, of marking a slave with some peculiar stigma, to prevent him from deserting his master's service, or rendering his discovery and restoration certain and easy. To this custom the prophet Ezekiel refers : “ Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof." Another instance may be mentioned from the Revelation : " Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.”g In both instances, it is the symbol of protection and security both to the persons and privileges of the people of God.
The price of a slave, according to Maimonides, was thirty pieces of silver, whether male or female, without any regard to sex, or shape, or size, or instrinsic value. And this, it will be recollected, was the price at which the traitor sold the Redeemer of our souls; it was a part of the deep humiliation to which he submitted, to be valued by his betrayers and murderers only at the price of a Gentile slave, the meanest and the most despised of the f Ezek. ix, 4.
: % Rev. vii, 3.
human race. Slaves in the east, are often sold for much less in time of war. When the Tartars invaded Poland, they sold the children of that unhappy kingdom for a crown. In Mingrelia, they sell them for provisions and wine. It was a part of the misery which the people of Israel had to suffer for their iniquities, to see their children also sold for a trifle: “ They have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl fo rwine, that they might drink."h
The people of Israel, like all the nations of antiquity, had the power of life and death over their slaves ; for slavery proceeded from the right of conquest, when the victors, instead of putting their enemies to death, chose rather to give them their lives, that they might have the benefit of their services. Hence it was supposed that the conqueror always reserved the power of taking away their lives, if they committed any thing worthy of death ; and that he acquired the same power over their children, because they had never been born, if he had not spared the father, and transmitted it when he alienated his slave. Such is the foundation of the absolute power claimed by the orientals over the unhappy persons whom they detained in slavery. It must be granted, that such reasons never can justify the exorbitant power of a slave-holder,
Joel jii, 3. Harmer's Obsery. vol. iv, p. 302.“ Parents in a time of scarcity often sell their children, and even themselves, for bread in eastern countries ; and has been practised from the time of Joseph to the present period. This kind of slavery was unknown among the Jews : the Mosaic law, with the sweetest breathings of humanity, thus enjoins the Israelites : “ If thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee, thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bond-servant : but as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall rve thee unto the year of jubilee,” &c. Lev. xxv, 39. Forbes's Orient. Mem. vol. iii, p. 172.
or even his right to deprive his fellow-creature of his lie berty, who has been guilty of no adequate crime. The claims of Israel rested upon different grounds, the positive grant of Jehovah himself, who certainly has a right to dispose of his creatures as he pleases. But among that people, the power of the master was limited by laws, which secured the safety and comfort of the slave, perhaps as much as that condition could possibly admit. Though the Israelitish master had the power of life and death, it has been alleged by some writers that he seldom abused it; for his interest obliged him to preserve his slave, who made a part of his riches. This is the reason of the law, That he should not be punished who had smitten a servant, if he continued alive a day or two after. He is his money, says the lawgiver, to shew that the loss of his
property was deemed a sufficient punishment; and it may be presumed, in this case, that the master only intended his correction. But if the slave died under the strokes, it was to be supposed the master had a real design to kill him, for which the law commanded him to be punished. But considerations of interest are too feeble a barrier to resist the impulse of passions, inflamed by the conscious. ness and exercise of absolute power over a fellow-mortal. The wise and benevolent restraints imposed upon a master of slaves, by the law of Moses, clearly prove that he very often abused his power, or was in extreme danger of doing so; for laws are not made for the good, but for the evil doer.
The oriental slave must not presume to look his master in the face; he stands before him with his eyes cast on the ground, or directed to the hand of his master, watching the sign which is to regulate his movements. To this