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PHILOSOPHY knows no obligation that binds one man to another without an equivalent. If one man could be subjected to another, who is not bound to render any thing in return, it would be subversive to good morals and political justice. Such a relation cannot exist, only so far as to reach the immediate death of the subjected. But it has been the error of some good men to suppose that slavery presented such a case. It has been their misfortune also to receive the following succedaneums as axioms in the search for truth:
“ All men are born equal."
“ The conscience infallibly distinguishes between right and wrong.”
“No man is under any obligation to obey any law when his conscience dictates it to be wrong.”
“ The conscience empowers any man to nullify any law; because the conscience is a part and parcel of the Divine mind.”
“Slavery is wholly founded on force.”
“Slavery originates in the power of the strong over the weak.”
“ Slavery disqualifies a man to fulfil the great object of his being.”
“ The doctrines of the Bible forbid slavery.”
“There is no word, either in the Old or the New Testament, which expresses the idea of slave or slavery.”
Slavery places its subjects beyond moral and legal obligation: therefore, it can never be a legal or moral relation.”
Slavery is inconsistent with the moral nature of man.” “ To hold in slavery is inconsistent with the present state of morals and religion.”
“Slavery is contrary to the will of God.”
Averments of this order are quite numerous. Fanatics receive them; and some others do not distinguish them from truths.
At any age, and in any country, where such errors are generally adopted, and become the rules of political action, morals and religion are always in commotion, and in danger of shipwreck: for, although, where man has only approached so far towards civilization that even the enlightened can merely perceive them as rudimental, yet the great principles that influence human life, morality and religion, are, everywhere, and always have been the same.
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