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but were abused for the nefarious purpose of imprisoning and working in chains kidnapped freemen *. The same enlightened heathen emperor introduced some other important restrictions on the sale and ill treatment of slaves. He even banished a lady of rank, because she was notoriously cruel to her slaves. Constantine prohibited the punishment of branding a slave, which is now practised in the West Indies, not on convict slaves only, but often without the imputation of a crime! He also passed an edict which placed the wilful murder of a slave on a level with that of a freeman, and expressly included the case of a slave who died under punishment, unless that was inflicted with the usual instruments of correction. But this law was afterwards modified. The effect of Christianity in meliorating the usage of slaves, was considerable, even prior to its political establishment f.
Christianity inculcated a salutary care for the spiritual welfare of slaves. The church invited or allowed them to partake of all the ordinances of religion : and their birth was no impediment to their rising to the highest dignities of the priesthood. In early times, it would
appear, that slaves, bolding the true faith, were taken into the service of the church; like the two slave-girls, mentioned by Pliny, in his celebrated letter to Trajan, respecting the Christians of Bithynia. At first, indeed, it was required, that a slave should be enfranchised, before ordination ; but Justinian declared the simple consent of the master to be sufficient. If a slave had been ordained without his owner's knowledge, the latter might demand him within a year; and the slave fell back into his master's power. Nay, if a slave, after ordination with his master's consent, chose to renounce the ecclesiastical state, and returned to a secular life, he was given back, as a slave, to his master. Similar rules applied, originally, to the assumption and abandonment of the monastic habit, by slaves ; but subsequently, they were directed to remain three years in a state of probation, after which, their admission into a religious order made them free. We are told, that it was very common, for both ecclesiastic and lay patrons of churches and chapels, to encourage their slaves to become clergymen, that they, in preference to strangers, might receive their benefices : till the practice was condemned, in the fifth century, by the council of Chalcedon. The canon law must, always, have recognised
* Mr. Stephen has shewn that the ergastuli were penal slaves, or those on whom that character was fraudulently imposed." See Slavery of the W. I. Colonies, vol. i. pp. 338–358. It is doubted whether, among the agricultural slaves, there were any females. There are no allusions to their being so employed ; and there would seem to have been none at least among the ergastuli. Liberty, according to the testimony of Columella, was generally conferred upon female slaves who had borne four or more children. See Blair, p. 104.
+ Mr. Blair cites at p. 127, the apocryphal Apostolic Constitutions as the work of Clemens Alexandrinus, and a production of the second century. Lardner will set him right on this point.
the indissolubility of marriages contracted by slaves ; but it was not published, as a rule for practice, till a late period; probably, from fear of injury to slave-owners, by open infringement of their existing rights. 'Slaves were fully protected in the exercise of worship, and, to a certain extent, in the observance of religious festivals. The liberty and gambols of the Saturnalia were transferred to Christmas; and it is not unlikely, that some of those ceremonies at Easter, by which Princes used to denote their Christian humility, were originally derived from those representations of equality, exhibited in the Pagan feasts of March and December.' pp. 70–72.
• Slaves were, at all times, competent to avail themselves of the temporary protection of sanctuaries. Those were, of old, the temples and altars of the gods, to which the palace and images of the Emperor were, afterwards, added ; and on the change of religion, Christian churches and shrines received the same privileges as those which had belonged to edifices dedicated to Heathen worship. A slave who, dreading the resentment of his lord, fled to an asylum, was safe while he remained there; and it would have been sacrilegious to drag him away: but, whenever he quitted the sacred spot, he might be lawfully seized by his master. The law of Theodosius the Great, introduced a further security, by authorizing the slave, while in the asylum, to invoke the aid of the judge, and to proceed unmolested to the tribunal, where the merits of his case were to be duly investigated, and the threatened vengeance of his master properly controlled. A Christian church afforded very great safety from the wrath of unmerciful owners: for when a slave took refuge there, it became the duty of the ecclesiastics to intercede for him, with his master; and if the latter refused to pardon the slave, they were bound not to give him up, but to let him live within the precincts of the sanctuary, till he chose to depart, or his owner granted him forgiveness. pp. 88, 89.
But to Justinian belongs the merit of having removed most of the impediments to manumission created by his predecessors; and the spirit of his laws powerfully contributed both to improve the condition of bondsmen, and to promote the extinction of domestic servitude. * The reformation of the servile code of
Rome,' remarks Mr. Stephen, 'was attended with no civil dis
orders; because manumissions, through the benign influence of • Christianity, became so copious, soon after that manumission
commenced, that the slaves speedily ceased to bear a dangerous proportion in number to the free citizens and libertines of the empire.' *
Thus, it appears that Christianity, if it did not violently overturn, gradually dissolved the institution of slavery. “The heavy
chains of personal slavery,' in the language of Bp. Porteus, were gradually broken in most parts of the Christian world; and they that had been, for so many ages, bruised by the cruel and oppressive hand of pagan masters, were at length set free.'
Slavery of the W. I. Colonies, vol. i. p. 377.
It is admitted, that no passage in the Christian Scriptures actually prohibits slavery; for Christianity, as Paley remarks on this subject, “soliciting admission into all nations of the world, • abstained, as behoved it, from intermeddling with the civil institutions of any.' Nor did it denounce the tyranny of Nero. But it expressly forbade the Christian freeman to become a slave by voluntary contract; it authoritatively enjoined the Christian slave to aspire to become a freedman, as well as to glory in his spiritual liberty * ; it raised the bond to the same level, in moral dignity, with the free; it immediately multiplied manumissions, and operated as an alterative' upon the social system; and, had not its influence been counteracted by those causes which paralysed its own native energy, by deteriorating its purity, it would still more rapidly have produced the extinction of an evil involving the most enormous injustice and the most fatal impolicy
The influence of slavery upon the social character of the Romans, Mr. Blair shews to have been, in various respects, prejudicial and degrading; and the State was directly exposed, at different periods, to serious dangers from the slaves. He concludes his erudite Inquiry with remarking, that on the whole, if
we consider that several of those corruptions by which Rome was undermined had their chief source in the institution of Slavery, we must necessarily look upon it as one of the main causes of the decay of her empire.'
· Nature created man free,' says Bishop Warburton, and Grace invites him to assert his freedom.' A golden sentence! Christianity has extinguished the Roman slavery and the feudal servitude. Wherever it has had free course, it has vindicated its heaven-born character, by proclaiming liberty to the captive and redemption to the slave. It shall yet triumph over West Indian heathenism and American prejudice; over the strength of avarice and the pride of caste. It will redress the wrongs of the slaves, and compel a recognition of the equal claims of the blacks. If it could loosen the bonds of pagan slavery, shall we doubt the issue of its conflict with the injustice and infatuation of Christian slave-holders ?
Art. II. Lectures on Revivals of Religion. By William B. Sprague,
D.D., Pastor of the second Presbyterian Church in Albany. With an Introductory Essay, by the Rev. George Redford, A.M., and the Rev. John Angell James. 12mo. pp. xxiv. 456. Price 5s. 6d.
Glasgow. 1832. NOTHING that the world has ever witnessed, equals the
rapid growth of America. There, in a temporal, as well as a spiritual sense, a nation is born in a day. The changes which
* Gal. iii. 28. 1 Cor. vii. 22, 23.
men have undergone during the slow lapse of several thousand years, are there seen co-existing, in the same place, and at the same moment. The savage hunter pursues his rude and primitive occupation in the vicinity of the civilization of the nineteenth century. Towns rise up as if by enchantment in the midst of the sylvan wilderness; and rivers that were crossed only by the canoe, are traversed by vessels more wonderful than the self-impelled galleys of Rhadamanthus, that reached their destined haven in spite of the opposition of the winds and the waves.
With a population so rapidly increasing, and so extensively scattered, over boundless tracts of fertility, which are ever luring the wanderers to plunge still deeper into their solitudes, it is difficult to frame institutions, whether civil or religious, that can keep up with a growth so sudden and so unrestricted.
The religious instruction of Europe is stationary, like its population. America, to remain even nominally Christian, requires an advancement of religion, like its victorious progress during the first centuries of primitive Christianity. In Revivals of Religion, the Americans have found a supply adequate to their peculiar wants. And if, with them, the progress of population is wonderful, the multiplication of vital Christians is more wonderful still.
The nature of American Revivals is well described within a short compass, in a passage which occurs in the interesting life of Mr. Bruen; a publication which, in this country, contained some of the earliest notices of Revivals.
· Mr. Whelpley's Church,' Mr. Bruen writes, is now greatly revived, and many are under powerful exercises of conviction, and some rejoicing in hope. You will understand the whole matter, if you read what Edwards has written. The occasion of this change in the Wall Street church, has been a day of fasting and prayer, which was appointed in view of the desolations of Zion. They sent their Christian salutations and invitations to other churches, that they might join with them in this observance and free-will offering unto the Lord. On the day appointed, the church was filled to overtlow, for six successive hours without intermission. The greater part who were there, we may hope the grace of conversion had taught to pray. The ministers, in succession, gave a brief view of the state of religion in their respective churches, and prayed for an effusion of the Holy Spirit. Such breathless, solemn attention I can scarcely hope again to in niy
life among so vast a multitude. When Mr. Whelpley arose to address this assembly, in that unpremeditated manner to which he was not used in the pulpit, there was in his whole aspect a bearing and significance, like that of a man consciously in the presence of God. His look was that of one worn out by early labour; the beamings of his countenance were those of a Christian who beheld the throbbings of many Christian hearts. The very tones of his voice, if he had spoken in an unknown tongue, would have been intelligible. He presented to the audience the desolations of that portion of the
field of Zion which he cultivated. He besought them to regard the condition of that church, which, as a fruitful bough, had sent its branches over the wall, which were now bearing fruit all around, while at the root there was decay of moistness and verdure. The appeal was so instinct with energy and pathos, that aged men lifted up their voice and wept. This was one of the most solemn seasons I ever witnessed. A blessing has manifestly and immediately followed.'
Mr. Bruen, in the above quotation, refers to Mr. Jonathan Edwards, and with justice, as the standard authority on the subject of Revivals. All works on this subject, written in America, pre-suppose an acquaintance with his writings. Indeed, when Providence was preparing a new opening for the spread of genuine religion, that admirable divine appeared raised up on purpose to separate the precious from the vile, by applying the test of Scripture to the various appearances of conversions. Proceeding on the principles of inductive philosophy, he formed his judgement of causes by the fullest examination of their effects, and has thus bequeathed the most valuable legacy to after times ; since the later revivals differ from those witnessed by Edwards, only in having a wider range and more frequent recurrence.
The later American Revivals have hitherto been known in Britain chiefly by detached and broken accounts of them, occasionally extracted from newspapers and magazines. Though received by some persons with the interest due to the importance of the subject, these distant and imperfect rumours were treated by others with a mixture of indifference and incredulity. What all seemed to require, were facts. At this time, the History and Character • of American Revivals' by Mr. Colton, appeared : 'a work, as has been remarked, ' of which the most objectionable part is the
title-page, which was probably conferred upon it by some • bookseller,' not much to the advantage of the publication itself, as it led to the disappointment of many readers, and very unfairly to the Author, who avows in the preface, that, for å general historical narrative,' he was altogether unfurnished with the necessary documents.' Mr. Colton's is, in truth, an able and spirited work, full of original thought and of heart stirring views of the approaching glories of the kingdom of heaven. It may be so far considered as historical, that it traces the influence of Religious Revivals in America, at the present day, to the noble and devoted spirit of the ‘Pilgrim Fathers' of New England, who followed the call of duty and of Providence to a land unknown, and who accounted the promises of God a sufficient portion for themselves and their posterity.
• Indeed,' observes Mr. Colton, when I have looked at the flight of the Puritans, as they have been ignominiously termed, -or of our Pilgrim Fathers, as we have reverently called them,- from these shores to that far-off, uninviting, inhospitable continent, as then it was,- I lave at VOL. IX.--N.S.