This article was published by C. F. W. Walther in Der Lutheraner Volume 19.
(Submitted by Prof. Dr. Sihler.)
[Volume 19, St. Louis, Mon. February 1, 1863, No. 12.]
A Christian is a person whose heart and conscience are bound solely and exclusively by what God’s Word, or Holy Scripture, says. Whatever is contrary to the holy ten commandments, with which the natural or moral law written by God in the heart of all people also agrees, that is sinful, criminal and condemnable to him. And it is all the same to him, how the mass of the unbelievers regards it and perhaps lifts up to heaven what he, according to God’s word, must reject and cast down to hell.
Again, what God does not forbid in his law, but puts into the use of his Christian freedom, that is no sin to him, even if a large number of selfish, unbelieving idolaters of the human spirit, even under the pretense of love, reject and repudiate it with hatred and disgust. We now want to apply this principle, which is an undeniably correct principle for all those who want to be Christians, to slavery, and investigate from God’s Word how it applies and especially whether it is a sin to keep slaves; for it could easily be the case that some newer readers of this publication do not have a conscience sufficiently informed by God’s word; and therefore they are in danger of being misled and confused by the clamor of abolitionist fanatics, who try to spread their delusion as far as possible and to persuade others as if slavery were against Christianity or even contrary to a sound legal state of the civil community. If only this were abolished and, where possible, all slaves were immediately set free — thus they proceed in their ravings — then it could not fail that the citizens of the United States would be blissful people as heroes of humanity and benefactors of mankind, and would bring back the golden age and restore the lost paradise.
From which spirit such delusion originates, we will see later, after we have recognized the truth from God’s word. It is obvious from Holy Scripture that through the deception and seduction of the devil our first parents in paradise and all of us in them have fallen from faith and obedience to God into unbelief and disobedience to God and thus have become servants and slaves of the devil. That is why Christ calls him the strong and armed one, even the prince of this world, i.e. of the children of unbelief; and this is the real actual bondage and slavery in which all men as sinners from their mother’s womb (Ps. 51) are imprisoned, be they, according to their outward nature and worldly position, superiors or inferiors, free or slaves. We are all, in our inherited sin and its constant manifestations in real sins, from the inward conscious impulse to the grossest outbreak in deed, miserable, will-less slaves of the devil, whom this tyrant leads captive either by the bonds of mammon-service, ambition, worldly lusts, or by the subtle sins of conceitedness, self-righteousness, and sanctimoniousness; and according to his will, are on the broad path that leads to damnation.
And if the strongest had not overcome the strong, if the seed of the woman had not crushed the serpent’s head, if the Son of God had not destroyed the works of the devil by paying our debt on the cursed wood of the cross as the Son of God and Mary and suffering our punishment of death, and by virtue of his resurrection had set free the children of death and freed the slaves of the devil: we, the children of Adam, would all have remained in this miserable and terrible captivity and bondage, and would have nothing to await after temporal death, the wages of sin, but the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
It is therefore without any contradiction that we all, according to God’s Word, in Adam, as children of wrath by nature, are all also slaves of the devil, but in Christ we are all saved from the wrath of God and redeemed from the terrible spiritual bondage under the tyranny of the devil.
But if both are equally true according to the nature of sin and grace, it is a small thing that God, within this standing contrast, according to his holy punitive justice, has also from time immemorial, just as He has imposed poverty, famine, sword, and pestilence, also imposed temporal bondage and slavery on certain people, although the particular sins that caused God to impose this special punishment are not known to us everywhere. Indeed, according to God’s wonderful ways with mankind, He often lets those bear the consequences of sin whose personal sin is not punished by it. (Joh. 9:1-3) For even the hardest servitude, in which a person is subjected with his body to the will of the master who owns him as property, cannot be compared to the fact that he has stolen himself from his rightful owner, God, and sold himself to sin and the devil, Rom. 7:14; but then God, by virtue of the redemption in Christ, has no other purpose in these temporal punishments than to lead the bonded prisoner to repentance and to reveal to him his dear Son as his Savior, so that he may be redeemed from the power of sin and the devil through the true faith of the Gospel and become truly free and a dear child of God, even if he also has to remain in the state of servanthood, since he is not allowed to dispose of his person according to his will, and is even a saleable commodity. Again, what special advantage have the freemen, if they conduct their rule over their servants and slaves whether in a more patriarchal or in a more despotic way, if they remain unbelievers and after this short temporal rule the saying of the Lord of all lords resounds against them: “Bind their hands and feet and throw them out into the outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth”? [Matthew 22:13]
After these introductory and fundamental truths, we will now proceed to the matter itself, and first deal with the cause of bodily slavery, which alone is sin. First of all we find the important passage Gen. 9:25-27, in which the holy patriarch Noah, after he had found out about his mockery by his son Ham, pronounced, by the stimulus of God, the following curse against Ham’s son Canaan (who had undoubtedly participated in the gross sin of his father against Noah) and his descendants: “Cursed be Canaan and a servant of all servants among his brothers. And said further, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant. God spread out Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant.”
From the first verse of this passage and from the concluding words of the two following verses, it now becomes irrefutably clear that God, after His righteous judgment through Noah’s mouth, visited the sin of Ham and Canaan on their Descendants by continuous, servile bondage or slavery under the descendants of Shem and Japheth. But that this curse did not break out of a carnal anger of Noah and did not fade away without a trace in the air, is clear from the history of the later time. For those Canaanites, who (contrary to God’s commandment, Deut. 20:17) were not exterminated by Israel (Shem’s descendants) with the edge of the sword, but were spared out of selfishness, and were consigned by the victors and conquerors of the land, as we see from Jos. 16:10 and 17:13, to perpetual serfdom and servitude. But the Canaanites, who lived in Gibeon and were known to have deceived Israel through a fraudulent covenant, received the following harsh sentence from Joshua’s mouth, Jos. 9:23: “Therefore you shall be cursed, so that there shall not cease from among you servants who cut wood and carry water to the house of my God.”
But as God remembers mercy in the midst of wrath, these Gibeonites who had been made slaves and those other Cananites had access to his word opened to them through their dwelling among Israel, so that after they had repentantly recognized their sins in the Law of Moses, they could become righteous before God through the gospel and through faith in the promised seed of Abraham, our Lord Christ, and thus truly free from the dominion of sin.
Another passage, which also proves that within the general, spiritual slavery of all natural men under the dominion of sin and the devil, bodily slavery is a temporal judgment of God against sin, similar to famine, sword, and pestilence and other plagues, is Deut. 28:68, which reads thus: “And the LORD shall bring you again into Egypt with ships full, by the way of which I said, thou shalt see it no more (cf. 17:16). And there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondmaids, and there shall be no buyer.”
This threatening word of the Lord by Moses’ mouth is one of many others, which he directs in this chapter (verses 15-69) against his own covenant people, if they would not obey his voice and would not keep his commandments and laws. And also this threat of God has been fulfilled in later times; because in the ships of the Sydonians and Tyrians after the destruction of Jerusalem Jewish slaves bought by the Babylonians were brought to Egypt for sale.
A third passage of a similar nature is found in the prophet Jeremiah, 5:19 and 17:4, where it reads: “As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so you shall serve strangers in a land that is not yours; and you (Israel) shall be cast out of your inheritance which I have given you, and will make you servants of your enemies in a land which you do not know; for you have kindled a fire of my wrath which will burn forever.”
From this it is obvious that especially because of the apostasy and idolatry, which naturally resulted in a multitude of gross transgressions of the second table, the children of Israel in the kingdom of Judah were led into captivity and slavery in Babylon before and after the destruction of Jerusalem. But since among these there were also those who sat by the waters of Babylon and wept when they remembered Zion (Ps. 137:1), the gracious and merciful God comforted these shattered hearts and terrified consciences through the prophet Ezekiel with the promise of the Messiah; and as from God’s own mouth, the prophet was to say to them (33:11): “As surely as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his ways and live.”
But it was quite different and much worse for the people of Israel about 600 years later, after they had not only crucified the Lord of glory and killed the Prince of life, but also for the most part rejected the gracious gospel for about 40 years in malicious unbelief. For after the second destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., many thousands of Jews, prisoners of war, were sold into slavery at a ridiculous price and scattered among all nations without prophets, without consolation, and under the judgment of blindness and hardening, as it still stands today; for only a few individuals, “the elect of grace,” have been saved through the centuries by the gospel in the Christian church.
Thus we should have seen from God’s word that slavery, i.e. the state in which a man is another’s according to body and possessions, and thus is deprived of his personal freedom with regard to the disposal of his person and the choice of his employment, is indeed a consequence of sin and a peculiar manifestation of God’s punitive justice. But there is no essential difference between it and other punishments of God, as, for example, deformity, poverty, famine, and other plagues; yes, compared, for example, with epidemics, wars, volcanic eruptions, strong earthquakes, where many people are often dragged into eternal damnation by a quick evil death, slavery appears as a milder punishment of God. And this is especially the case where the slaves are within the Christian church and under the sound of the gospel, and truly even the Negro slaves brought here are much better off than if they had fallen at home in the bloody feuds of their tribes or had been sacrificed as prisoners of war to the gods of the victors or had become more and more spiritually rotten in their own idolatry as slaves of the devil.
We now proceed to prove from God’s Word, namely the Holy Scriptures, that nowhere, neither in the Old nor in the New Testament, does it forbid or even disapprove slavery or, more precisely, the owning and keeping of slaves or bonded servants.
Thus we read that the Lord God speaks to the children of Israel through Moses (Lev. 25:44-46): “If you want to have bonded servants and maids, then you shall buy them from the heathen who are around you, from the sojourners who are strangers among you and from their descendants whom they beget in your land; these you shall have for your own and you shall possess them, and your children after you for property for ever, they shall be your bonded servants.” Over these the masters were also granted a stricter regiment than over impoverished tribesmen and fellow believers who had sold themselves as servants to their debtors.
For when God says in regard to these, “But over your brethren the children of Israel none shall rule with severity,” it is evident from this that this was permitted to the lords over their bond servants to a greater extent, whether they had come into their power by purchase or captivity in war, or had been born in their houses. For most of them, namely those of Canaan’s lineage, who remained later among Israel, as e.g. the Gebeonites, were actually to be “banished,” that is, cursed with eradication and completely exterminated, as wicked idolaters and perpetrators of shameful immoral abominations (Lev. 18) according to God’s strict judgment during the conquering of the land of the Lord. If, however, some of them remained among Israel, because Israel was too negligent and not zealous enough to execute God’s judgments on them, it was only in accordance with God’s justice that their lot as slaves was harsher than that of the Israelite servants; for these [latter], whom the debtor was not allowed to treat as serfs, nor to sell, were to rejoin their family and their fathers’ possessions in the seventh year, Lev. 25:39-43; Ex. 21:2.
Furthermore, when the Lord forbids, Exodus 20:17, “Do not lust after your neighbor’s manservant or maidservant,” He confirms the rightful ownership of them. But God could not possibly have done this if the possession of sold, bonded servants and maids were sinful in itself. Likewise, Holy Scripture describes the ownership of servants and maids, that is, of slaves in bondage, as a blessing from the Lord. For thus Eliezer, the suitor for Isaac, speaks to Rebekah’s parents and her brother Laban, Genesis 24:35: “And the Lord hath blessed my lord abundantly, and waxed great, and hath given him sheep, and oxen, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses.” And the same is reported of Jacob, (Gen. 30:43) and of Job (1:3).
Among other earthly goods, the godly patriarchs also possessed servants and maids as a blessing from the Lord and as part of their earthly blessings. But none of them is said to have had a bad conscience about the legitimacy of this possession and property and to have freed his servants and maids. Rather, we learn that these faithful fathers, who certainly had the Holy Spirit in them, also considered the children of these servants and maids as their rightful property; for it is expressly reported about Abraham in Genesis 14:14 that he had 318 servants who were born in his house. And these he armed, when he pursued with this small group in bold courage of faith Kedor Laomor, the king of Elam, and his three allied kings from the Orient, in order to rescue Lot and his children from him, which he also succeeded in doing.
But someone might raise the objection: in the household governance of the old covenant, legal discipline prevailed, and there, however, the fathers, as later their descendants, the people of Israel, found slavery as an existing thing and used it without hesitation. Also, in antiquity, as an existing institution, there had been no free day laborers and hirelings, who, after free self-determination and disposal of their person, served sometimes this, sometimes that master according to the pleasure of their will. But in the household of the new covenant, in the Christian church, things are different; there the gospel and Christian love rule; and it is strictly contrary to this that one man is the slave, the saleable bondservant of another, and that the latter has the power and strength to use the bodily strength of his slave for his own advantage for any unsinful service he desires. God is said to have created all men; before Him all are equal, also Christ redeemed all men and acquired the same freedom for all.
We intend also to answer especially this objection later. For now it suffices to prove that in the New Testament itself, Christians are by no means forbidden to keep slaves and to make use of this institution and civil order handed down from paganism and Judaism, according to Christian freedom; For since it is not sinful in and of itself and is not contrary to God’s commandment, neither Christ’s nor his apostles’ mouths censure or disapprove of it, however, the Lord punishes usury and overcharging as sins against love, which not a few abolitionist Sabbatarians practice with the greatest zeal; These holy people even help to equip and dispatch slave ships in order to smuggle slaves from the African coast to America, against the civil law of their own country, while at the same time they agitate for the quickest possible release of the existing slaves. No! Not slavery as a human institution, but only the sinful abuse, which is attached to it in many ways and of course always in conflict with love, receives due censure, especially in the New Testament.
The following are the testimonies in which the Holy Spirit not only does not disapprove of the existence of slavery (let alone urges its immediate abolition), but recognizes and accepts the slave’s calling to service as unsinful: in 1 Tim. 6:1, St. Paul writes to Timothy: “The servants who are under the yoke should hold their masters in high esteem, so that the name of God and the doctrine be not blasphemed.”
If slavery were against the gospel and bodily bondage against the spiritual freedom of a Christian, the apostle could not have written these words. Rather, he would have had to make it a matter of conscience for the converted slaves to break the yoke, even by violent self-help and rebellion, if secret escape were impossible. Therefore, in 1525, the Anabaptist rebel, Thomas Münzer, acted thus who incited the Thuringian serf-peasants to revolt against their bodily masters, having previously confused their minds with false unevangelical teaching. For he taught them to despise spiritual freedom, whereby Christ had freed them from the yoke of the law in order to become righteous before God by His works, as well as from all human statutes and commandments, and exchange this for bodily freedom; and so it happened that, against love, they gave place to the flesh, revolted against their bodily masters, burned their castles, plundered their possessions, and murdered the defenseless; And by this they proved that they were indeed servants of corruption and slaves of the devil, but not such people who, through true faith in Christ, were truly freed from that yoke and from the dominion of sin and the devil, and enjoyed freedom of the children of God in the midst of the servitude of the saints. Luther also writes about this in his “Refutation of the 12th Articles of the Peasants,” regarding the 3rd Article:
“There is to be no serf because Christ has redeemed us all? What is this? This would be to make Christian liberty into liberty of the flesh. Did not Abraham and other patriarchs and prophets own serfs? Read what St. Paul has to say about servants, who at that time were all in bondage. Therefore this article is directly opposed to the Gospel and it is rapacious, for everyone who is a bondman to remove himself from his master. A bondman can very well be a Christian and have Christian freedom, just as a prisoner or sick person can be a Christian, but yet is not free. This article proposes to make all men equal, and turn the spiritual kingdom of Christ into a worldly one, which is impossible. For a worldly kingdom cannot exist where there is no class distinction, where some are free, some are prisoners, some are masters, and some are vassals, etc.” (Luther’s Works by Walch, Vol. 16, pp. 85 ff.) Thus St. Paul and Thomas Münzer, together with his kindred abolitionist spirits of more recent times, of English and German tongue, have nothing to do with each other. These speak out of the enthusiastic spirit, in which the murderer and liar has played his part from the beginning, even if he disguises himself here as an angel of light. St. Paul, however, speaks from the Holy Spirit, which, as we know, is the spirit of true Christian love, peace, and wholesome order. Out of this Spirit, in 1 Tim. 6:1 he admonishes the believing slaves that they should “hold worthy of all esteem” even their unbelieving and heathen masters — for only in the following verse does he speak of their behavior toward their believing masters — and indeed for the sake of the fourth commandment and godly order, according to which it pleases the Lord to make them slaves and to make those unbelievers their bodily masters; For it was precisely in such a relationship of service that they had the best opportunity to exercise faith through love and, through their willing and joyful obedience, meekness, humility and patience, to let the glory of the gospel of Christ, which so miraculously transforms and renews the heart and will through faith, shine powerfully, as it were, as a silent sermon and a speaking testimony to their unbelieving masters. And there is no doubt that many of these masters, when they saw the godly conduct of their slaves after their conversion, while they had been lazy, thieving, unfaithful, etc. before, were won to the gospel.
Similarly, St. Peter writes about believing wives who had unbelieving husbands that they should be subject to them, so that those who did not believe in the word would be won over by the wives’ conduct without the word, when they saw their chaste conduct in fear. 1 Peter 3:1-2.
So St. Paul admonishes the believing slaves therefore also to hold their unbelieving masters in honor, “lest the name of God and the doctrine be blasphemed.” This would undeniably have been done by the pagan masters if their Christian slaves had acted against them according to the flesh, had demanded their bodily freedom from them and, in case of refusal, had run away or, under the pretense of Christian freedom, had withdrawn from them the obedience owed or had even revolted against them with an armed hand and open violence in order to gain their bodily freedom. Of course, the pagan masters, who were uninformed about the nature of the Gospel, would have blamed the Christian doctrine for such an impudent undertaking and sacrilegious start of their slaves, and would have blasphemed it as a source of all disorder and disobedience, even of rebellion and outrage, and would have profaned the name of Christ as the head of the rebels; for before their slaves had heard this new doctrine, their malice would never have broken out so defiantly as to demand their liberty as a right now due to them.
In a similar way — for it is the same Holy Spirit who speaks through all the apostles — St. Peter also writes, 1 Peter 2:18-21: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called.”
This exhortation also contains the exact opposite of what the old Anabaptists incited the serf-peasants to do and what the newer abolitionists incite the slaves to do. Yes St. Peter intensifies the already stated admonition of his fellow apostle; for he admonishes the believing slaves that they should be submissive and obedient to their heathen masters not only out of grateful love for their goodness and leniency, but that they should show the same submissiveness “with all fear” and reverence also to the “strange,” that is, the bad and perverse masters, for whom they could do nothing right and who ruled over them with severity; For this is grace and pleasing to God, and also entails the reward of grace, if they, in order not to sin through impatience and disobedience against God and against the conscience enlightened and sharpened by the gospel and faith, bear the evil, that is harsh words and blows, and suffer the injustice; for to suffer for iniquity, as rightly befalls the disobedient and insubordinate slaves, is a punishment justly inflicted and truly no glory.
If, however, they endured all sorts of things from their “strange” masters while being faithful to their service, this is grace from God, for this is what they were called to do; and Peter goes on to paint their Lord and Savior before the faithful slaves as a model of sanctification, that they not only confess him with their mouths, but also follow him in deeds and suffering. Furthermore every Christian, and therefore also every believing slave, is called not only to do good, but also to suffer evil from the one who benefits from his good deeds, namely his physical master.
Similarly, St. Paul (Titus 2:9-10) admonishes the believing slaves “to be submissive to their own masters, to please them will in all things, not answering again; not to purloin, but to show all good fidelity;” and as above he had admonished them (in 1 Timothy 6:1) against dishonorable behavior toward their heathen masters, “that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed,” likewise here he exhorts them to the same Christian virtues, “that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.” But in Col. 3:22-24 his words to the believing slaves read thus: “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh (be they heathens or Christians); not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God. And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he had done: and there is no respect of persons.”
Precisely these two last verses are very important in this admonition of the Apostle. For, after they had been redeemed from the slavery of sin and the devil through faith in Jesus Christ and had attained to the blessed freedom of the children of God, he is far from declaring their continuing slavery to heathen masters as something shameful and unworthy of their present spiritual nobility. Rather, he calls their present slave service, which is sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ and performed in Christian love for their masters, even if they are pagans, a service to God [Gottesdienst]. Likewise, it does not occur to St. Paul to hold out to or place in view of the believing slaves the prospect of the quickest possible liberation from bodily bondage as a necessary or urgently desirable good for those who have become spiritually free. Rather, he opens the prospect of heaven for them and testifies, as from the mouth of the Lord, that after their faithful service on earth they would receive a glorious reward and recompense in heaven, and even inherit the Kingdom of Glory. On the other hand, he also threatens them with the judgment of God if they do “wrong” against faith and conscience, including trying to attain their bodily freedom by sinful means.
In all these passages, interpreted according to the word, there is not even the slightest hint that even the slavery of Christians under pagan masters is something contrary to the gospel and spiritual freedom. Rather, St. Paul writes, 1 Cor. 7:22: “He that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman.” But the apostle is just as far from making it a matter of conscience for Christian slaves to remain in the state of slavery. Indeed, he says in vv. 20-21 in general: “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it,” that is, do not be troubled with thoughts as if you could not be a righteous Christian, serve God, and please the Lord even as a slave. But then he adds: “But if you can become free (that is, by honest and sincere means, that someone buys you out or that your master releases you out of favor), then much rather do that,” do not let the permitted opportunity pass by unused.
But now, another point is to be considered according to God’s word, namely, what the relationship of converted slaves to their believing masters was to be and whether they could claim their bodily release from them as an act of their brotherly love. There is no trace of this in the New Testament either. Rather, St. Paul writes about the behavior of believing slaves towards their Christian masters, (1 Tim. 6:2) thus: “And they that have believing masters, should not despise them with the pretense that they, [namely the servants] are the [spiritual] brothers of their masters,” so that through the same faith in Christ and the same sonship of God they are equal to them before God; “but rather do them service, (that is, perform their service all the more faithfully and willingly), because they (the servants) are faithful and beloved (by God, and by their physical Christian masters) and are partakers of the benefit (of salvation and spiritual deliverance from the dominion of sin through the gospel).”
Therefore in all these admonitions, especially those of the apostle Paul, about how the believing slaves should behave towards their pagan or Christian masters, there is not the slightest hint that their spiritual redemption by Christ from the slavery of sin and the devil brings immediate physical liberation with it. Rather, St. Paul always keeps bodily and spiritual freedom sharply apart as two completely different areas, while the enthusiasts of older and newer times confuse the two. According to his view, that is, according to the truth of God, the matter always stands thus: “He that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.” 1 Cor. 7:22.
The apostle Paul confirms his teaching and admonition by his own actions. There was an unbelieving slave named Onesimus who had come to Rome after he had escaped from a believing slave owner named Philemon in Colossae, who had been converted by Paul earlier. There he was converted to faith in the Lord Christ through the preaching of St. Paul, “[who] dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him” (Acts 28:30) to hear the word of God, and thus became spiritually free. What does the apostle do? If he had been a righteous Anabaptist or abolitionist preacher, he would have declared Onesimus bodily free right away, or made it a matter of conscience for Philemon to leave Onesimus bodily free; then he would have considered it contrary to the gospel, shameful and unworthy for one believer to be the slave of another; after all, they had both put on Christ and were both God’s children; and there would be “neither bond nor free.” (Gal. 3:25) St. Paul did not do so, but even though the converted Onesimus, did and could do all kinds of services of love for him, and even though his master, Philemon, was freed by the apostle from the slavery of sin and the devil, and was bound to grateful love in return, he still sent Onesimus back to his master with a letter imbued with the sweetness of the evangelical spirit and Christian love. And also in this his own handwritten letter, in which he commends this “my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds, my own heart,” to Philemon’s heart for loving acceptance and forgiveness for his escape — also in this letter there is not contained the slightest hint to set this slave free bodily, who was indeed now at the same time “above a servant, a beloved brother” (namely his, Philemon’s). And surely Onesimus, as a Christian, as one anointed by the Holy Spirit and enlightened by God’s Word, would have known how to use his physical freedom for the glory of God and the benefit of mankind; and it would have been much different than if now, for example, a southern planter, seduced by abolitionist heresy in pamphlets and sentimental novels, had set free unconverted slaves, who until then could only be kept in outward obedience by coercion and fear of punishment. And is it not so that the runaway slaves to Canada, who unfortunately, contrary to the law, have been encouraged in all sorts of ways in the northern states, are by their laziness and immorality a great plague to that country?
On the other hand, in his letter Paul only expresses his joy that Onesimus (which means “useful”) now lives up to his name, because he “was useless to you (Philemon), but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.” (v. 11).
[Volume 19, St. Louis, Monday, February 15, 1863, No. 13.]
The summary result of all these quotations from Holy Scripture, interpreted and applied according to the text and the faith, is therefore this: First: The gospel and the faith in Christ that it brings about, through which man, and thus also the physical slave, is made a partaker of spiritual deliverance from the slavery of sin and the devil in the forgiveness of sin and the reception of the Holy Spirit, has in and of itself nothing to do with the state of his physical slavery; for the gospel has to do only with the soul of the bodily slave, and primarily in its relationship to God, in order to redeem it from his wrath and severe judgment and to transform it into the blessed freedom of the children of God. On the other hand, it has nothing to do with the external nature and the bodily servitude of the slave to his master, in so far as it would give the slave a means of raising and asserting a legal claim to his bodily release from slavery against his master. And just as little does the gospel make it a matter of faith and love for the believing slave owner, that is, a matter of conscience, to set his slaves free in the flesh, even if they are his brothers in Christ.
Secondly: Just as it is the nature and character of the gospel through faith in Christ to sanctify, permeate, and spiritually enliven all other worldly orders and civil institutions, social relationships, customs, habits, and rights (provided they are not in themselves contrary to the commandments of God, and therefore sinful), so also is this done with slavery. And even if, due to human sin, all kinds of evil and pernicious abuse had been attached to this and that inherently unsinful institution and state or condition, such as the merchant profession (cf. Sir. 26:29, 27:1-2), or unlimited monarchy (cf. 1 Sam. 8:9-17), or to a particularly high degree to slavery, it is nevertheless contrary to the nature of the gospel and to the love of Christ, which is gradually improving from within, to insist in a stormy and violent manner even on the elimination of the abuses that cling to it, let alone to immediately remove the thing itself, to which the trouble adheres. For such unevangelical behavior is only the activity of arrogant legislators and workers, who everywhere in their revolutionary method of healing tend to throw out the baby with the bathwater, as the old and new abolitionists also do.
The gospel, however, by entering into the institution of slavery, which it found everywhere historically, works the following salutary fruit through faith in Christ and the change of mind of the slaves and slaveholders brought about by it, while leaving it in existence for the time being.
First of all, through faith, the heart, mind, spirit and will of the converted slaves are salutarily transformed respecting their physical masters. Before their conversion and spiritual deliverance from the slavery of sin and the devil, they were — by virtue of unbelief — lazy, stubborn, thieving, unfaithful, unwilling, spiteful, wrathful, groveling, false, whoring, lying, and eye-pleasing people, and where they obeyed outwardly, it was only out of fear of punishment or out of a desire for reward and praise; but inwardly there was no willing obedience and outwardly no service of true love; out of compulsion and with unwillingness they did the work commanded them and avoided the grosser outbreaks of evil. Hence Scripture so often speaks of servile fear, servile spirit and obedience in a derogatory way. And even where patriarchal house governance existed, where they had kind and gentle masters and received just treatment, they still remained, according to heart, mind, and will, unchanged and unregenerated in their inherited unbelief and disobedience, blindness and malice, aversion and spitefulness; for even the law of the holy ten commandments in correct spiritual interpretation is not able, in spite of all attached enticements and promises, as well as threats and curses, to substantially transform the heart and the will of the natural man, if he is a slave or not bodily free, and to place him in right obedience to God and man. Rather, the law, without the accompaniment of the gospel, works the exact opposite of what it demands, out of the guilt of the corrupted nature and in order to bring its extreme wickedness and corruption to light. For the more sharply the law presses upon man and demands perfect holiness of his nature and perfect obedience and love toward God in all his doings, the more vehemently it arouses man’s anger, hatred and aversion towards God and His holy will expressed in the law; and the more vehemently the desire to transgress flares up and the greater the mass of sins of commission and omission becomes. But since the law at the same time continues to pronounce the wrath of God against the children of unbelief, without giving man the desire and power to keep it, it proves itself in every man, as he is by nature (so also in every unconverted slave) to be the letter that kills, the office that preaches damnation.
But when the law thus testifies to the conscience of these bonded servants, they certainly recognize from it their sinful misery and ruin, shame and remorse, fear and terror before God’s wrath and judgment. And at the same time they realize that they have a much stricter spiritual master in the law than their physical master can ever be, for in the worst case he can punish them severely in body or have them killed. The law, however, to which their conscience assents, keeps them locked up in soul and body as evil and bankrupt debtors under its compulsion and curse, as in an unbreakable debtor’s tower and iron net, threatens them incessantly with the eternal torment and agony of hell, and lets them feel and experience the foretaste of it abundantly in the gnawing and biting of the evil conscience.
But also to them, as to all poor sinners, the law, according to God’s good gracious will, should become a disciplinarian for Christ. As soon as the gospel comes to them by some means and they do not resist the Holy Spirit, thereby kindling faith in Christ in their hearts, they receive forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit, are spiritually reborn and seated in the heavenly places in Christ. Then they are also redeemed from the slavery of sin and the devil and made truly free through the Son, so that they are no longer slaves to sin, but live for Him who died for them and rose again. As Christ gave himself to them with his nature and work, so now, as far as the new man lives in them, they give themselves to their neighbor in love with their nature and work. Then their heart’s attitude towards their physical masters becomes essentially different from what it was before. Then their most noble thoughts and aspirations are not to become physically free as soon as possible; they close their ears to abolitionist sneaks and corner preachers and consider it theft to steal away from their master by secretly escaping.
On the contrary, they now begin to truly serve him in the fear and love of God. For by the power of faith in Christ and by the impulse of the Holy Spirit who dwells in them and enlightens and governs them through God’s Word, they apply all honest diligence and zeal to be faithful in the fulfillment of the duties of their calling and to comply with those exhortations of the apostles. Instead of the evil qualities, the habitual sins and vices with which they were afflicted before their conversion, they are now seen to have good works and virtues, wrought and sanctified by faith in Christ. As children of God, as saints and beloved, as a voluntary people in the love of Christ, they are now, predominantly, obedient, diligent, faithful, sober, chaste, disciplined, humble, meek, patient, true, sincere, and adorn the doctrine of God their Savior throughout by godly conduct and walk worthy of the Gospel.
If they have faithful, kind, and gentle masters, they recognize this as an undeserved benefit of God and make all the more effort to prove their grateful love for them through faithful service, but they are far from putting themselves on an equal footing with them in a carnal way or even claiming their bodily release as a right to which they are entitled. If, on the other hand, they have unconverted, strict, and whimsical masters, they regard this as a salvific cross, have heartfelt mercy on their devil-mastered lords and never tire of following their Lord Christ in action and suffering, taking up their cross and also showing such masters all willing obedience and good faith, bearing unjust and tyrannical treatment with patience and gentleness and praying diligently for their masters that God will grant them grace to repent.
Thus we have now demonstrated what a salutary transformation the gospel, by kindling faith in Christ in the hearts of the slaves, also brings about in their behavior toward their physical masters. But before we give the proof for how the same gospel and the same faith also bring about a salutary change in the hearts of slaveholders in their behavior toward their slaves, let us first make a helpful and appropriate observation.
We have learned above that slavery is a punishment of sin from God, although not so terrible as the evil and quick death of the guilty criminal. Nevertheless, we find already in the Old Testament, how God shows his mercy against the slaves by special decrees, and resists the mercilessness of the slave owners. Thus, God decreed (Gen. 17:12) that Abraham should circumcise not only the slaves born to him at home, but also the slaves bought from all sorts of strangers.
Thereby they also entered into the covenant of grace that God established with Abraham and his seed; and although, according to their bodily descent, they were guests and strangers, they were admitted through this sacrament into the spiritual citizenship of Israel. And through this they also took part in the adoption and the glory, in the covenant and the law, in the [temple] service and the promise — for this practice was to be kept among Abraham’s descendants from then on. (Rom. 9:4) Likewise, God commanded Moses (Ex. 12:43-44) that no stranger should eat of the Passover lamb, but whoever was a purchased servant should be circumcised first and then eat of it. Also, according to the third commandment, the slaves were to have rest from their work on the Sabbath day (Ex 20:10), could participate in the services, hear the word of God, and were also to be brought to the sacrificial meals and feasts. (Deut. 12:12, 18; 16:11) Furthermore, the Lord Himself protects the bonded servants bought from the Gentiles or who came under the power of Israelite masters through captivity against the tyrannical treatment of their masters. For “if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.” (Ex. 21:20) Furthermore, if the masters knocked out the teeth of their servants or maidservants or spoil an eye by striking them with their fists, they should be released on account of this. (Ex 21:26-27) But the most precious thing was that the slaves also should be made partakers of the New Testament promises of grace. For thus says the Lord through the prophet Joel (2:29): “And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”
Thus, in view of these bodily and especially spiritual benefits, the slaves of the Jews were much better off than if they, among the heathens of their kindred race, had perhaps been given bodily freedom, but nevertheless, as being outside the realm of the divine word, without God and without hope in this world, remained spiritually dead in transgressions and sins and were not freed from the spiritual slavery of sin and the devil. And similarly, as already mentioned, the Negroes brought over from Africa are much better off by coming into the realm of the gospel, even though so many sins against the fear of God and the love of one’s neighbor are connected with their coming over. God provided even more kindly and lovingly for the Israelite slaves, when free Hebrews (Neh. 5:5) were sold by the court to a lord because of damages they could not compensate (Ex. 22:3), or by debtors they could not repay (2 Kings 4:1, Is. 50:1), or sold themselves because of impoverishment (Lev. 25:39). They were not to serve as serfs [Leibeigene], nor were they to be sold like them and treated with the same severity. (vv. 40-42) Rather, according to the law, they received their freedom in the Sabbath or Jubilee year after six years of service (Ex. 21:2, Deut. 15:12, Lev. 25:40), and had to be provided with sheep, grain, oil, and wine by their former masters. (Deut. 15:13)
How little God was against the lifelong bondage of one Israelite to another, however, is clear from Ex 21:6 and Deut 15:17. For if the servant, after his six years of service, did not want to make use of the legal freedom, but out of love for his master (also for his wife and his children, who might have been given to him by the master, and who otherwise both remained with the master upon his release (Ex. 21:4-5), preferred to remain with his master as a servant for life, then this could happen; only his ear was to be pierced with an awl before the elders — a sign of servitude that was also in use among other peoples of antiquity.
If we now turn to the New Testament, we also find the appropriate evangelical admonitions for the believing masters with regard to their behavior toward their slaves. Thus we read (Col. 4:1), “Masters, give unto your servants what is right and equal,” that is, fair, do not put them to excessive work, give them the necessary rest and refreshment, and provide for them according to need, as also belonging to your “household”, (1 Tim. 5:8), “knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven” that is, do not forget that one day you will have to give an account to the Lord of all lords of how you have behaved toward your slaves. St. Paul admonishes the masters in a similar way, Eph. 6:9: “And ye masters, do the same (what is right and just in the fear of God) unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven (and over you as his slaves); neither is there respect of persons with him.” (he rewards and punishes with righteous judgment according to his word, whether someone is master or slave).
Now as many of the physical masters who received forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ by means of the voice of the gospel, and took these admonitions of St. Paul to heart; their hearts, minds, and wills were also salutarily transformed toward their physical slaves. If the latter were also converted to Christ out of heathendom, they recognized them as their dear brothers in Christ and did not consider themselves higher than them before the Lord (Gal. 3:28). They also let Christ’s kindness and benevolence shine out in all their dealings with them, regarded them as their housemates and members of their family, cared for their needs in a fatherly way, did not impose undue work on them, granted them the necessary rest and refreshment, and took due care that they remained in the teaching and discipline of the divine word. Nevertheless, they did not cease to regard themselves as their masters, according to the salutary order of God in this world, clothed with the majesty of the Father’s name and the fourth commandment, to maintain punctual obedience and, where necessary, by the discipline of the law, to sharply punish the flesh of their Christian slaves, although in fatherly love. Nor were they bound, as God’s Word did not make them conscience-stricken, to give their slaves bodily freedom on account of being their brothers in Christ, although circumstances did arise from time to time that this happened. If their slaves were still heathen, they could of course not recognize them before God as their brothers in Christ, but they took all the more care that they, as those who had also been freed, by God’s grace and through Christian teaching, came to repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Christ, and thus were saved from the dominion of darkness and brought to the blessed freedom of the children of God.
Moreover, their behavior towards these pagan slaves was not essentially different from their behavior towards Christian slaves. Also towards them, under the governance of Christian fatherly love, the seriousness of the law and the gentleness of the gospel were wholesomely connected with each other in their discipline and regiment. And where, at the present time, there are any Christian-minded slave owners, the same thing happens essentially towards their Christian and heathen slaves; for the gospel and the faith in Christ kindled by it have everywhere in slaves and masters the same salutary effects as just described.
If, on the other hand, we consider the conduct and procedure of the older and newer abolitionists towards slaveholders and slaves, we find that it is utterly contrary to the gospel and faith in Christ and stems from a completely different spirit from the Holy Spirit and love of Christ. For it is the spirit of unbelief and enmity against Christ, the spirit of disobedience against God’s command and the spirit of insurrection and rebellion against his wholesome discipline and punishment against the children of Adam, sinners; It is the spirit of carnal reason emancipating itself from obedience to God’s word, in short, the spirit of man opposing God in arrogant self-idolatry by deception of the devil, which, where possible, overthrew the Triune God from His throne in order to sit on it and rule the world.
From this God-denying, antichristian and scripture-denying spirit have flowed for about 100 years the shameful and harmful writings of the English, French, and German deists, naturalists, rationalists, communists, and Friends of Light, in which the triune God of the Bible is dismissed as contrary to reason and instead the bastard (produced by the liar from the very beginning and the carnal reason of the apostate man) who is called “god, virtue and immortality,” is raised to the throne of the divine majesty. From this spirit came the children of the devil (the murderer from the beginning) the bloodthirsty regicides and blood-spilling monsters of the French Revolution. There, as is well known, our Lord God was deposed by popular decree on the impetus of the same, and in his place, a prostitute was worshiped as the goddess of reason by the educated madmen and uneducated rabble. And what wonder if then, under the deceptive pretense of brotherhood, freedom, and equality, one party overthrew the other and delivered thousands to the guillotine and flooded France with blood. And while the guillotine continuously threw so many children of unbelief into hell every day and gave the devil a true feast, nothing but mutual suspicion, distrust, partisan hatred, rancor, malice, boasting, vengefulness, and the like prevailed between the still-living, free, and equal brothers who had been redeemed from the yoke of the allegedly unbearable royal power, so that under this regiment of freedom, brotherhood, and equality hell on earth was already to be found.
The abolitionist fanatics and vocal leaders of our day and in this land come from the same spirit, who, deceived by the devil, and as deceivers of the ignorant and uncertain are a devouring cancer and a malignant worm in the marrow of the people. It is true that they also adorn themselves with beautiful-sounding names, just as the devil does not like to be black, but white, even an angel of light. It is humanity and philanthropy (friendliness and love of man) that they carry before them as a figurehead. Behind it, however, they are the men of overthrow and destruction, who care little that the Constitution and the Union would perish if they could only carry through their insane enthusiasm, their singular goal; for that is their purpose, wherever possible, to emancipate all Negro slaves with one blow and to bless their own or foreign countries with these poor people, who are almost entirely uneducated for Christian, civil, and moral use of physical freedom.
In this regard, they have for years been pushing and dragging the slavery issue around in the Congress in a most excited manner, even without any motive, and have no hesitation in stirring up and embittering their Southern brethren. For this purpose they also give their speeches outside of congress in all kinds of larger and smaller gatherings, as heroes of freedom and happiness of mankind, with more or less luck and skill, in order to increase their following; and even preachers of the gospel are not ashamed, as abolitionist speechmakers, to fanaticize one part of their audience for themselves under a deceptive appeal of God’s word and against the simple understanding of Scripture and Christian doctrine, and to instill disgust and repugnance in the other, but to deceive both of them regarding the right foundation and edification in and on God’s word. To the same end, preachers and non-preachers let their pernicious foolishness go out through the press in all kinds of pamphlets, in order to spread it even further, even under Christian pretenses; and in them they have no hesitation in presenting unverified facts about the treatment of Negro slaves in the South as true and certain, and in immediately drawing conclusions about all slaveholders from individual cases of tyrannical treatment. Over this they pour the broth of their sentimental effusions of the heart in order to move other softly constituted souls to a holy indignation, if not to a crusade for the liberation of the Negroes, at least in feelings and thoughts. Indeed, their holy zeal for the emancipation of the Negro slaves goes so far that they not only, as already mentioned above, help runaway slaves across the border to Canada, with plans and action in violation of the Fugitive Slave Law, but they also dispatch spies to the South, disguised for example as peddlers, in order to, where possible, stir up trouble here and there among the blacks, to encourage them to run away, and to bring them into a hostile position against their masters by instilling their poison abolitionist potion. In summary, even if the reasons for the civil war which has now broken out and is continuing, and the manifold miseries of the country which flow from it, lie deeper, it cannot be denied that the enthusiast madness of abolitionism is one of the nearest and foremost causes of this ruin. This rage for emancipation, however, is again partly the natural consequence of the self-emancipation of arrogant carnal reason from obedience to the divine word and from true faith in Christ, and partly an inner judgment of God, who is wont to punish sin by sin.
But the outbreak of party fury into civil war and its horrors is then the external judgment of God for the same apostasy and contempt of the divine word.
It is not our intention to go into this in more detail this time. Only this much is certain, that the present abolitionism, far from helping the slaves in a salutary way, works just the opposite. In part, it drives individual slaveholders, who are more despotic than patriarchal-minded, to harsher measures, and perhaps even entire slave states to harsher laws against their slaves, and furthermore, it hinders the power of the Gospel, which, though slow and gradual, is all the more thoroughly and lastingly transforming from within.
The history of our German people, for example, shows this healing power. During the many and often very bloody wars of the individual tribes [Stämme] against each other, the victors also made their prisoners of war into slaves; and their lot was in part much harder than that of the Negroes here in the southern slave states. Then it happened by God’s gracious guidance that through the fervent zeal for love of those godly monks in English and Irish monasteries, Columbanus, Gall, Kilian, Willibrord and especially Boniface and his companions, the preaching of the Gospel penetrated to our fathers in the 7th and 8th century and the Christian church also began to draw from among them.
Wherever, here and there through God’s word, individual slave masters and bonded servants became true believers in Christ and were converted, their mutual behavior naturally became different and better than before, as already explained above; the old things passed away, and through the rejuvenating and renewing power of the gospel and through faith in Christ everything became new in this respect as well. The same outward physical relationship of masters and slaves to each other, in which previously only compulsion and fear, mutual hatred and distrust prevailed, now became for both a training school of love, humility, gentleness, patience, and mutual trust in the prevailing attitude of the believing Christian-minded heart.
In the course of the centuries, however, it happened that the Christian church, even among our ancestors, grew from a mustard seed into a mighty tree, under whose branches the birds of the heavens dwelt; it happened at the same time that the Christian doctrine, the sweet and gracious gospel, proved to be a spiritual leaven; the longer that hearts were won for the faith in Christ and penetrated with it, the more there were. Slowly but surely the customs became milder and conformed to a Christian mind; even in the laws of the various countries, Christian doctrine and the educational power of the church exerted a wholesome influence, so that love and justice came more and more into their own.
This influence then also extended to slavery. Gradually, the harshest form of slavery ceased to exist, in which the slaves, who until then had been a commodity for sale, were absolutely at the mercy of the will (even the whims) of their owners, who could even impose the death penalty on them without further accountability and responsibility.
With the emergence and spread of the feudal order, since many formerly free and small landowners came under the protection of the great and powerful and entered into a certain dependent relationship with them — then in connection with that, this harsh form of serfdom ceased. The serfs now became glebae adscripti, that is, such people who, with their children and descendants, were attached to a certain property belonging to their lords. As little as they were entitled to free self-determination and disposal over their person and the choice of their work; just as little did their lords have unlimited power over them; and depending on the extent of their maintenance by their lords, the circle of their servitude and their work was also circumscribed, according to custom and law, and their persons enjoyed the legal protection of the laws against any encroachments of tyrannical lords. In this relationship, they were usually given time and opportunity to acquire property.
From this transitional form and intermediate stage between complete serfdom and complete freedom, from this state of “bondage,” an even greater degree of freedom developed as “the bonded” grew in intellect, education, and civic morality. They were released from their bondage to the soil; and although they were not yet free and independent landowners on a larger scale, they became tenants of a larger landlord whom they could choose at will, and to whom, depending on the contract and agreement, as is now the case, for example, with the peasants in the Russian Baltic provinces, they must annually render a certain amount of manual labor or wages, or both, for the use of their leased land.
This wholesome educating power of the Gospel in the transformation of slavery, which works gradually, quietly, and wisely from within and yet so powerfully and lastingly, has unfortunately been most violently interrupted here in this country by the urging and raging of the fanatical abolitionists; and the most distressing and regrettable thing about this interruption is especially the fact that it has been caused to a great, if not to the greatest part, by those who, according to their actual profession, should especially be fighting it, namely by the preachers, especially those of the Methodists; for it is said that almost all of them do more harm than professional political abolitionist partisans, both in their speeches on their religious stages, where they feed their poor people with poisonous abolitionist weeds instead of God’s Word, and in their journals and pamphlets. And also by this they prove anew that they are no sons of the gospel, no true confessors of Christ and no righteous followers of the Apostles in doctrine and conduct, but legalist, hypocritical busybodies and erroneous and flattering enthusiast spirits, who, in a disgraceful and harmful way, incurably mix up spiritual and bodily freedom.
Instead of acting verbally and in writing as Christian preachers in an evangelical way against the evils and abuses of slavery, it is precisely these unfortunate and blinded people who are always urging the rapid abolition of slavery in a stormy and violent way: and it is precisely they who really have helped to bring this pernicious civil war, which they love to call a “holy” one, upon the country and to make the rupture between the North and the South, where possible, incurable. Now it could still be possible that, in spite of the raving and shouting of these senseless people, that the shouting, pleading and sighing of the true believers and children of God would obtain from their heavenly Father to heal the existing rupture once more, to give the whole people a grace period for repentance and to turn the fury of His wrath away from them, so that the quarreling factions would not yet wear each other down to complete exhaustion and crumbling. But it could also be that if the greater arrogance and reliance on flesh were with the North, the South would be able to assert its political independence and also gain external recognition. In both cases, the question would arise: What does the gospel, or more precisely, what should truly evangelical-minded people do in the first place, be they preachers or statesmen or landowners, etc., inside and outside the slave states in order to have a salutary effect on the here and there corrupted condition of slavery?
[Volume 19, St. Louis, Monday, March 1, 1863, No. 14.]
To the question that was raised in closing: What does the gospel, or more precisely, what should truly evangelical-minded people do in the first place, be they preachers or statesmen or landowners, etc., inside and outside the slave states in order to have a salutary effect on the occasionally corrupt condition of slavery? we answer as follows:
First of all, this would be the most important thing, to bring the pure Christian — that is, Lutheran — doctrine orally and in writing, which they would be able to do, more and more into the slave states and to bring slaveholders as well as slaves as far as possible into their sphere. It is true that there are Lutheran congregations in the southern states, but they are usually only called that, and are not; for they nearly all belong to the so-called Lutheran General Synod, which fundamentally denies the ninth and tenth articles of the Augsburg Confession, is reformed in its doctrine, Methodist in its practice, and unionist in its attitude.
How unclear and confused, how enthusiastic and partisan this synod is in itself, however, is irrefutably proven by the recent political discord in the country and the civil war that has broken out; for it too, like almost all other churches and their synods, is now divided, according to its political partisanship, into two hostile camps, a northern and a southern one.
How should such an impotent synod, in these stormy times, which is not held together by the unity and power of the church confession, on the basis of the divine word, which does not know how to separate and distinguish between law and gospel, or bodily and spiritual freedom — how should such a synod, as an ecclesiastical body, be in a position to have a salutary effect on the formation of healthy evangelical knowledge and attitudes, especially on the slaveholders of the South?
On the other hand, it would be highly necessary to bring the slave owners in the southern states — for in the border states, as is well known, the slaves are treated mildly on average — on the basis of evangelical knowledge and by way of inner conviction, to first abolish the grosser evils and abuses, even corruptions in the slavery system.
These include, for example, the separation of spouses or of parents and younger children by the sale of one or the other, which is said to occur from time to time in the most southern states; furthermore, the perhaps excessive burden of work and the arbitrariness and harshness of the slave overseers in the infliction of corporal punishment; and therefore, the fundamental keeping down of the slaves in a state of crudeness and ignorance, in that they are regarded and treated only as living machines of service and like working domestic animals, and even the more capable are deprived of the means of attaining a certain level of knowledge and morality, which was possible even among the slaves of the pagan Romans. And, furthermore, the fact that in some states the learning of reading by slaves is forbidden by law, may also be to a large extent the fault of the revolutionary fliers and pamphlets of the abolitionists, as the dizzying and delirious spirit of these heroes of freedom and human happiness could only have had a corrupting effect on the poor slaves.
Thirdly, it would be urgently desirable that those evangelically minded men, gifted with love and wisdom, would gain a salutary influence on the legislation in individual slave states by oral and written means, insofar as these sanction those and other grosser evils by existing laws and encourage the personal harshness and severity of individual slaveholders, or at least do not oppose them.
If these truly philanthropic efforts of Christian love and wisdom were gradually heard and received in the slave states, the way would be paved at the same time to train the slaves inwardly, where possible, to the right use of bodily freedom, primarily through the teaching and discipline of the divine word and human means of education.
It would then also become clear through experience whether the children of Ham, considered as slaves, have the ability to attain civic independence and self-government as bodily freemen, or whether political dependence and servitude under the children of Japheth would be their permanent fate.
For the abortive experiments with Haiti, where the freed Negroes are revealed as lazy, ragged, loitering sluggards, do not yet furnish convincing proof of the innate incapacity of the Negro race for civic moral self-reliance and self-government.
Just as little, however, do the freed individual Negroes scattered here and there in the northern states, who present themselves as Christian-minded, intelligent, industrious people, prove the opposite. On average, the freed Negroes also seem to have a certain aversion to work in cultivating the land, since the poorer ones almost never hire themselves out as farmhands, but prefer to become barbers, cooks, and servants in inns; the well-off, however, very seldom buy land to work it themselves, but prefer to invest their money in such a way that they make as much money as possible with as little work as possible, following the example of the free white Americans.
This aversion to work in contrast to the industrious cultivation of the land, following the example of our industrious German countrymen, is, however, a bad omen and speaks more against than in favor of their future total physical emancipation; for it is difficult to deduce what the mass of the later freedmen, who, for example, would find sufficient room for profitable work as tenants in the South, should do other than cultivate land. Otherwise, they would be best used here, in my humble opinion, partly for their own advancement, partly for the support of the large plantation owners there; for experience shows that white workers are on average not able to perform the same work in the hotter regions as the muscular Negroes originating from the tropical zone, who feel all the better physically the more the burning sun drives the oily sweat on their skin. Thus they are less susceptible to climatic diseases than the whites. But to transfer them all to Liberia, or to this or that of the Central American Free States, if these would allow it, would be, especially at the present time, neither for themselves, nor for the regions and their inhabitants, to which they were sent, in any way salutary and profitable, since they are not at all trained and educated for the productive use of their physical freedom. Everything depends on whether and how such education and training is put into practice. If, to this end, where possible, the pure and truthful teaching of the divine word and suitable human means of education worked together in harmony during their present state of slavery, it would become increasingly clear during the course of this labor of love whether and to what extent the Negro race was capable of and suitable for the use of bodily freedom which would be beneficial to them and to others.
On the one hand, of course, it cannot be denied, and history has confirmed it many times, that through the gradual evangelization and Christianization of whole tribes and peoples, many gifts and powers that had hitherto been suppressed or had degenerated into sinful abuse and destructive selfishness were freed and at the same time brought into the service of love and moral, lawful order for wholesome use and common benefit. For example, this has happened in recent times in some island groups of the fifth continent, on the Sandwich, Friendship, and Society Islands, and is still happening on other islands of the South Seas, especially on New Zealand.
On the other hand, it is always questionable whether individual tribes, even though Christianity has found its way into them, are capable of the wholesome use of full bodily freedom, of civic and moral independence, and of the establishment and maintenance of a political community, especially a republican one. There are, after all, enough people in the Christian states — indeed, the greatest number of them — who, irrespective of their Christian and moral worth, in their state of dependence, even of servitude, yet for lack of higher intellectual talent, would never be able to build up a civic community on their own and to maintain it in a prosperous course, for they lack the managing ability; they are indeed the supporting feet, the running legs, the working hands of a body politic, but they need the eye that guides them, the mouth that speaks for them.
It is perhaps similar with whole tribes [Stämmen] and ethnicities [Völkerschaften] who, in spite of their conversion to Christianity, would hardly be able to escape the state of childhood and immaturity and work their way up to civil and moral independence and self-government without mixing with more talented tribes [Stämmen].
[Volume 19, St. Louis, Mon. March 15, 1863, No. 15.]
As far as the already Christianized Negroes are concerned, I have the report of a German naval officer who visited the Negro Republic of Liberia on the west coast of Africa in 1854 in a squadron. Its territory covers 450 German square miles and was then populated by 215,000 inhabitants. Of these, 200,000 are uncivilized natives who have recognized and submitted to the rule of the Republic, and 15,000 are Christian and civilized colored immigrants from the states of the Union here. As is known, the first colony of the present Republic of Liberia was founded on the coast of Upper Guinea by the North American Colonization Society in 1823. This company set itself the task of buying the freedom of as many blacks as possible and establishing an asylum for them in their homeland. Through purchases from neighboring Negro lords, it later expanded to the size indicated above, and in a period of 23 years the society sent 10,000 colored people there.
With regard to the above-mentioned reporter, it must be noted from the outset, in accordance with the truth, that he possesses a healthy, sober view and a fine power of observation and comprehension directed to the actual conditions, which does not appear to be influenced and clouded by a passionate partisan interest, either for or against slavery, to the detriment of the truth.
This eyewitness reports with regard to agriculture, to which the Republic is primarily directed, that it is practiced very casually by the free Negroes, although the excellently lush and fertile soil is unparalleled in the world and rewards even the slightest effort and work many times over, “The free colonist who emerges from the Negro race” — so it says — “only brings himself to cultivate just as much land as bare self-preservation requires. In the vicinity of Monrovia — that is the name of the capital and seat of the government in honor of the former President Monroe — one sees several thousand fields with coffee and sugar plantations, which are flourishing splendidly. However, these belong to only 5 to 6 more intelligent industrious mixlings [Mischlinge]. Further inland, one finds no trace of such plantations, although their rich yield is obvious. The ordinary black does not have the drive to do more than to gain a carefree livelihood, which comes to him with little effort in a country so favored by nature. The sluggishness which is inseparable from the character of the Negro, will therefore be the downfall of Liberia’s future. The Negro wants only sufficient food and necessary clothing for himself and his family, and works merely to avoid the greatest material hardship. Farming is too arduous for him; he does not even raise cattle. Even most of the meat consumed in Liberia is imported from abroad. Only small-scale trade is still a business for him. As a craftsman, he produces such rough work that only he is satisfied by it. Any industrial object in the cities (of which there are 4) that has any claim to value comes from outside. The republic has existed with its present borders for almost 30 years, yet possesses only one road, 4 (German?) miles long, on which a wagon can travel. This road was built under the presidency of the American agent and with American money; it leads from Monrovia toward the interior. Since Liberia has become self-governing, nothing else has been done to facilitate communication.
The nearby virgin forests are the abode of countless ravenous animals that incessantly harass the colonists; these forests are also the source of the deadly miasmas (noxious vapors) that kill almost half of the immigrants. It is in the interest of the state as well as of the individual to cut down the forests and to use the valuable timber as an article of commerce or even just to burn them. One would at least improve the climate, and at the same time gain millions of acres of the most beautiful virgin soil. But one is content with extracting from the forest only what is most necessary, the wood for building a house, the spot for the production of a small field, and still allows oneself to be attacked by wild animals, still breathes in death and infirmity with the poisonous vapors.”
From this description of how the freed or ransomed Negroes behave toward the cultivation of the land, it seems clear that they are just as reluctant and disgruntled by nature as they were in their former state of slavery. Just as here they are moved to work only by iron necessity and the fear of punishment, so in Liberia it is by fear of hunger and starvation, since there they have no master to provide for the satisfaction of their bodily needs. And it is difficult to foresee how they, without mixing with the white race, which, however, is utterly unthinkable, could escape from their natural life, cease to be slaves of their immediate natural needs, how they could become diligent and knowledgeable cultivators of larger stretches of land and become masters of the soil, and how they could rise in this way to a higher level of education and civilization.
How the above-mentioned intermixture has a lifting effect on the individual in the Negro race is also evident from the above description; for from it we have seen right at the beginning how the mulattoes [Mulatten], these mixlings [Mischlinge] of whites [Weißen] and Negresses [Negerinnen], possess a higher degree of understanding and prosperity. However, according to the testimony of the same reporter, the evil has been revealed in Liberia that it is these very mulattoes who form a kind of aristocratic caste and “would have long since seized all power if they were not still supervised and kept in check by the colonization society. As soon as this restraint ceases, rule must fall to them, because property and intelligence will always dominate poverty and stupidity. The Republic hereby comes to an end, while the mixlings make themselves masters of the land and turn into despots and slave owners. Actually, this is already the case, and it is the gentle, industrious Kroomen (an oppressed native Negro tribe), who look upon themselves as born beasts of burden, who willingly submit to the yoke of slavery. On the aforementioned sugar and coffee plantations, in the houses of the wealthy mixlings and Christian Negroes, the whip is already swung just as mercilessly over the Kroomen, who are used as servants, as it was formerly swung in America and the West Indies over the naked backs of their present masters. There are no worse masters than mixlings. Although born of the blood of the white and black races, they hate both irreconcilably, and they make them suffer for this hatred where they can. Moreover, the mixlings are possessed of an indomitable greed for money, and their flabby morals allow them to find every means of acquisition justified. Now they seek wealth in the cultivation of their plantations; but they will certainly prefer to engage in the more profitable slave trade as soon as the opportunity presents itself.—This cannot be said of the Christian Negroes, but they would do nothing to prevent it. The mass of Negro Christians are far too indolent and indifferent; and as long as they suffer no material hardship, it would be irrelevant to them whether Liberia were a republic, a monarchy, or a slave state, if only they themselves need not work.”
However, the Christian preachers there of all sorts and colors do not seem to contend unanimously and vigorously with the word of God and especially with the gospel against these moral corruptions that contradict the word of God. They — most of them are Methodists and Baptists — are content, after their own fashion, to give the blacks the stamp of their puritanical legal formal righteousness; for neither there nor here do they consistently recognize, by virtue of their heresies, the true nature and way of the gospel unmixed with the law and its works, which, after and with the operation of the law, as the revealer of sin and taskmaster of Christ, righteously converts, regenerates and renews the repentant sinner alone through true faith in Christ, and works the love of God and neighbor in him, and in this way also helps him to a truly moral and living activity in his civil community. In contrast, the gospel spares everything that is not intrinsically sinful but natural, as, for example, temperament, manners, habits, customs, and so on. In the manner of Christ’s love, it enters into all these natural things in order to heal them where they are diseased and where they exist among the people in a healthy way, to sanctify them and to gradually transform them into a nobler form more in keeping with the Christian sense and spirit. On the other hand, it avoids and flees coercion, the false displays of virtue, and the excessive heat of the law, which does not produce vigorous and healthy fruit, nor plants that the heavenly Father has planted and watered through the gospel.
Our author now also provides a full report of this legalist compulsion and work of the preachers there. He writes: “The blacks on the streets walk silently and with deliberate steps, the aristocrats with high white neckbands, like Puritan preachers, the lowly, though not so evenly, yet with the same solemnly composed faces. They greet each other in a formal, measured manner. If a few passers-by happen to speak together, they do so in unctuous speech and in a low voice, as if they were in a church and feared to disturb the devotion.
Whoever knows the indestructible cheerfulness of the blacks, which needs only the slightest impulse to gush forth in the most unrestrained manner, their delight in chatting and their great joy in singing — qualities which even the harshest treatment cannot suppress — must be astonished at the enormous contrast which in this respect manifests itself among the inhabitants of Monrovia.
This is the result of religious coercion exercised by the missionaries upon the inhabitants; in misconstrued zeal they have so forcibly and unnaturally changed the harmless character of the people. The clergy, both those sent by the American Missionary Societies and the native ones, exercise a great dominion over the minds of the blacks. But it seems that it is not based on love, but on fear.
If the founders of the Free State, who consisted strictly of churchmen, wanted Liberia to be regarded as a bulwark of Christianity and, to this end, sought to spread and strengthen their own principles with the help of the missionaries, there is certainly no objection to this. The small number of crimes that are punished in Liberia also proves that it has indeed succeeded in eradicating the evil passions in the minds of the blacks.” (The author means, of course, to repressing of the grosser outbreaks of the same through fear of punishment).
“But this was only done violently at the expense of the character of the Negroes, in that their childlike nature was likewise suppressed and deprived of all vigor or led to hypocrisy by means of the punishment of even the most innocent pleasures. For example, young girls are strictly forbidden to dance; only church songs are permitted. Any cheerful get-together is thus inhibited and actual sociability is lacking. In addition, friendly interaction is also disturbed by sectarianism, which is just as prevalent here as in the United States. The intolerance of the clergy has led to a situation in which the individual confessions and sects face each other harshly and in isolation, and everyone shuns contact with those who believe or think differently. That this also hinders the flourishing of the political community is obvious.”
From this description of the law-mongering and works-focused preachers there, it is clear enough that they, directly against the essence and working of the gospel, begin the process in reverse, as it were. That which is a voluntary fruit of the gospel, they try to force out by the law. Not dancing and not singing frivolous, worldly songs, for example, certainly does not make one a Christian; but he who is a believing Christian has nothing to do with dancing and such singing, because he knows and enjoys a better pleasure and a nobler joy, against which all the lusts and pleasures of this world seem to him to be gussied up corpses and apples of Sodom. In this area, too, dealing with the law can for the most part produce nothing but proud, self-righteous, works-righteous Pharisees who think they will find their righteousness before God in such outward doings, but not in Christ through faith. Another part, however, consists of secret Epicureans, who avoid what is forbidden only out of compulsion and fear of punishment, while the desire and lust for it inwardly burns all the more fiercely and occasionally gives vent to itself all the more unrestrainedly and satisfies itself all the more intemperately, the tighter and tighter the straitjacket is that is put on them.
How little hope the author has for the prosperous future of this Negro republic, in view of the ecclesiastical, political and social conditions of Liberia, is evident from his concluding words, which read thus:
“The colony, founded and cultivated under great expectations of civilization, is heading in the exact opposite direction, even if it will not arrive at this state of things for another half century. The blame for this lies in the nature of things; for the Negroes are and remain incapable of developing a civilized community of their own accord, whatever name it may have. They can be made to imitate and become accustomed to the outside world through compulsion, but as soon as this coercion disappears, they fall back into their natural barbarism without pause. The dark skin prepares the way for the whites; it will leave the stage after its work is done. As the Indians have disappeared from America, so the Negro will disappear from Africa with the incursion of the civilized peoples, even if thousands of years must pass.”
One cannot deny, of course, that this judgment of the author (who got to know the Negroes in Brazil, the East Indies and Africa) about their ability for civic-moral independence, for self-directed engagement with and independent influence on other peoples and states, i.e. for world-historical significance, has a lot going for it.
I, on the other hand, although I am more inclined to his view than not, given the way in which the Negroes have been converted to Christianity up to now, ultimately refrain from passing an unconditional judgment on the absolute inability of the Negro race to become a cultured people and to form independent states, but rather commend to God, the almighty, wise and benevolent builder and governor of all peoples, this matter as well. In my entire treatment, it has only been in my heart to prove the following points:
First, that according to God’s word, slavery is a consequence and punishment of sin, but not sinful in itself, that is, contrary to God’s commandments, even though at the same time much evil, even corruption, clings to it. Therefore, it cannot be a sin as such for any man to keep slaves.
Secondly, that everything depends on slave owners and slaves believing in Christ through the gospel and being converted to God, and thus both being freed from the slavery of sin and the devil.
Thirdly, that thereby their mutual behavior be wholesomely transformed and placed in the service of Christian love, without thereby making a bodily release of the slaves immediately necessary.
Fourth, that nevertheless, according to the evidence of history, the gospel, in the course of time, tended to alleviate and gradually abolish slavery in its harsh forms.
Fifth, that the older and newer abolitionism, as stemming from a completely different spirit, is utterly contrary to this salutary influence of the gospel and, even if it is dressed up with the figurehead of Christianity, is aggressively opposed to it and only worsens the lot of the slaves.
Sixthly, that here in this country, after the raging and storming of the emancipation mania has been eliminated and overcome (if God gives grace to that end), the gospel and the true faith in Christ thereby wrought must take up and continue its labor of love again, in order first to free unconverted slaveholders and slaves from the slavery of sin and the devil, and gradually to educate and train the latter to the Christian and moral use of bodily freedom.
Seventh, that the present method of conversion, which is customary in the country, and the associated ransom or release of the Negro slaves, will hardly enable them, by their own efforts and without mixing with the white race, to work their way out of a condition dominated only by the satisfaction of natural needs — and up into a higher condition, in which the moral and civil law, and the cultivation of natural materials and forces ordered by both, hold sway.
In conclusion, it should be expressly noted that this entire treatment, as proceeding from the word of God and supervised and guided by the same, has nothing to do with the question of slavery from the political point of view. Nor is it at all in the intention of this essay to become involved in any way in such steps and measures, which this or that slave state would like to do or take in recent times by legal means, to abolish slavery as quickly as possible in their respective areas. Whatever is wise or unwise, salutary or harmful in this procedure may be discussed and negotiated in more detail in political journals.
 This article was published in 1863 in four installments in Der Lutheraner, the Missouri Synod’s then flagship periodical. The source issue of each section is indicated at its head. Wilhelm Löhe also published the concluding summary statements from this essay in July 1863 in his periodical Kirchliche Mittheilungen aus und über Nord-Amerika. Another printing appeared in Baltimore in April 1863 by A. Schlitt, who appended the essay with the following remarks: Upon careful perusal of the above treatise, I found particular comfort in the soundness of the biblical proofs and other propositions cited therein; for which reason I desired to be allowed to reproduce the same by further printing. I therefore turned to the author, who also graciously granted me this wish.
 [Original footnote] It is therefore self-evident that the following treatment has nothing to do with the question of slavery from the political point of view, and thus does not interfere with the question of what measures a slave state might take in this present political crisis with regard to the present or later abolition of slavery from the point of view of its particular budget.
 Joh. 9:1-3 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
 Throughout, Sihler contrasts patriarchal (i.e. fatherly and caring, yet firm) masters with despotic or brutal ones.
 Deut. 20:17 but thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee:
Yet it came to pass, when the children of Israel were waxen strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute; but did not utterly drive them out.
 [Original footnote] It is also part of this that the Lord has sold them under the great god Mammon and the spirit of the swindler, because they did not want to recognize Christ, the treasure of all treasures. And it is also part of God’s judgment on the apostate Christians of the present time that the pseudo-intellectual Jews belong to their choir leaders, as well as that the rich Jews are the financiers and creditors of the Christian princes.
 Lev. 25:44-46 Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.
 Lev. 25:39-43 And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant: but as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubile: and then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return. For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen. Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God.
 Job 1:3 His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
 Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 26:29; 27:1-2 A merchant shall hardly keep himself from doing wrong; and an huckster shall not be freed from sin. Many have sinned for a small matter; and he that seeketh for abundance will turn his eyes away. As a nail sticketh fast between the joinings of the stones; so doth sin stick close between buying and selling.
 1 Sam. 8:9-17 Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
 Gen. 17:12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
 Ex. 12:43-44 And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: but every man’s servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof.
 Ex. 20:10 but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
 Ex 21:26-27 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake. 27 And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.
 Neh. 5:5 Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already: neither is it in our power to redeem them; for other men have our lands and vineyards.
 2 Kings 4:1 Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.
 Is. 50:1 Thus saith the Lord, Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.
 Ex 21:6 then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.
 Ex. 21:4-5 If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free:
 [This note does not appear in the original publication in Der Lutheraner, but does appear in the edition published by A. Schlitt in Baltimore with the designation “Anm. des Verfassers” (Note of the author.)] Nevertheless, it should not be denied that under Louis XIV and XV the most shameful profligacy of the court, the unjust one-sided tax burden on the citizens and peasants, the cruelty of criminal justice and the arbitrariness of the police had increased in a terrible way and the despotism of the royal power was quite as complete as in any Asiatic world empire of the pagan past. This long and hard pressure inevitably resulted in a powerful counter-pressure, a strong reaction. But the fact that this reaction took the horrible form of unlawful and violent self-help and, according to the just judgment of God, turned into the many-headed tyranny of the partisan rage of arrogant and domineering demagogues, made the French Revolution, even according to the judgment of pagan morality, let alone before the judgment seat of the divine word, one of the most criminal and damnable deeds in world history. —The author’s note.
 [Original footnote] It self-evident that they are far different from their seducers. For lack of sharpness of mind and judgment, and stupefied and confused by the clamor and fallacies of their seducers, they are unable to distinguish clearly and sharply the abuses and depraved conditions of slavery from the slavery itself, but confuse the two. D. E.
 [Original footnote] In a similar way, for example, some serfs of the large Russian landowners are allowed to trade in the country with the permission of their lords in exchange for an annual fee, the obrok, and there are very rich merchants among them. However, legally they and their children remain attached to the landed property of their lords, whose wealth is estimated according to the number of “souls” belonging to their estates.
 südlichsten ‘most southern’ in original; südlichen ‘southern’ in Schlitt edition.
 “The cliff upon which something fails” is a German idiom. Friedrich Hölderlin writes, “Ich glaube, daß die Ungeduld, mit der man seinem Ziele zueilt, die Klippe ist, an der gerade oft die besten Menschen scheitern.” I believe that the impatience with which one rushes toward one’s goal is the cliff that often causes the best people to fail.