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Nehemiah Adams
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about The Sable Cloud.

“I cannot believe,” said he, “that one can own a fellow-creature, hold God’s image as property, and be a true Christian.  This lady is an exception which does not destroy the general rule.”

“My dear sir,” said I, “you are an abstractionist.  You make the best possible condition under the sun your standard, to which you would make all men and things conform, instead of allowing for the vast inequalities, the necessities, the mutual dependence, the long historical conditions of men, as individuals and races.  A race or class of human beings may be in such a condition, that being ‘owned’ by a superior race will be, in their circumstances, a real mercy and a great blessing.”

“O my dear sir,” said he, “I weep over the degradation of your moral sense.  ‘Owning a fellow-creature!’ I would not hold property in a human being ’for all the wealth that sinews bought and sold have ever earned.’”

“Thousands of men and women,” I replied, “as good in the sight of God as you or I, think otherwise.  There is nothing in the relation of ownership to a human being which in itself is sinful, or wrong.”

“If it is your purpose,” said he, “to argue in favor of oppression, perhaps we had better not pursue the conversation.”

“Uncharitableness, false judgments, self-righteousness,” said I, “condemning a whole people for the sins of a few, are as truly ‘oppression’ as anything can be.  I plead for no wrongs; I justify no selfishness in the relation of master and servant; I regard the golden rule of Christ as the law by which slave-holding should be regulated in every instance.”

“I never expected,” said he, “to live long enough to hear of the golden rule being applied to slavery!  It would be like applying light to darkness, truth to falsehood, holiness to sin.”

“By what rule,” I inquired, “do you think the lady is habitually governed who wrote the letter which has interested you so much?”

“Why,” said he, “there are good people under every iniquitous system.  These exceptional cases are not the rule of judgment with regard to the nature and effect of a system.”

“Can you not imagine one man owning another,” said I, “under circumstances, and with motives, and in a temper and spirit which will make the relation most desirable?”

“I go further back,” said he, “and I deny that it is right for one human being to own another.”

“Has not God a right,” said I, “to place one human being over another as his owner?”

“Has God a right,” said he, “to countenance theft and oppression?”

I said to him:  “I might follow your example, and answer you by asking, Has God a right to countenance war?  But I will relieve all your disagreeable apprehensions as to our conversation at once, by saying that I am not to argue in favor of oppression.  If holding a slave is oppression, it is a sin.  And if it be inconsistent with the golden rule, it is a sin.”

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