“True, it may nevertheless, be an amelioration of their original state; they may fall into the hands of a Christian people, and hundreds of thousands of them be civilized, and be converted to Christianity; redeemed from a barbarous condition they may contribute immensely to the general good of the race both as producers and consumers. Wherever commerce needs them, unquestionably they will do more good to the world by being compelled to work than by wearing out their miserable and useless existence in Africa.
“All this may be true; still, is it not a curse to be hewers of wood and drawers of water? Does not God say to Israel that if they sin, they ‘shall be the tail and not the head?’ National degradation, exposing a people to be the prey and the captives of a superior race, is, of course, a curse, though, like death itself, and even sin, it may, by the grace of God, turn to good. Still, it is a curse.
“But in governing a fallen world like ours, God now and then ordains the subjection of one race to another; and he makes bondage one of his ordinances as truly as war. The extermination of the Canaanites by the sword, was an ordinance of Heaven. War is a part of God’s method in governing the world; as well as sickness and death.
“I never had any sympathy for that amiable but weak concern for the character of God which represents him as finding slavery in existence and merely legislating about it, and doing the best he can with an inevitable evil. This view belongs to a system which makes God, as it seems to me, the most unhappy Being, continually striving to destroy that which sprung up contrary to his plan. To dwell on this, however, would lead us too far into theological questions.
“I tremble to think of our responsibility as a nation in being put in charge of a people with whom God has some terrible controversy for their own sins and those of their ancestors.
“Through our abuse of power, God may say to us, ’I was a little angry, and ye helped on the affliction.’ God’s purposes in having the chastised nation afflicted, will be accomplished, but He will punish every one who inflicts the chastisement with a selfish, unchristian spirit.
“Our people generally take it for granted that slavery is like one of the self-limiting diseases of childhood, to be outgrown, and to cease forever, in process of time, and before many years have passed away.
“The ground of this conclusion is a doctrinal error, namely, that slave-holding, the relation of master and servant, ownership, property in man, or by whatever name slavery may be designated, is in itself wrong, and that as soon as practicable it will be abjured and no man will stand to another in the relation of master, or owner. But whether for good or for ill, slavery will be in existence at the last day. We read that ‘every bondman and every freeman’ will see the sign of the Son of Man.