«PHILADELPHIA: Printed for the Author. 1737 This is an annotated text of All Slave-Keepers That keep the Innocent in Bondage, Apostates, published by ...»
If the Case be thus, dear Brethren, as to be sure it is, how shall we stand our Ground? our Ground, I say. It is true we may keep our Meeting. Houses for a time, and we may join Forces with them that are in the Negro Practice; in strict Unity among our selves, and with any other dear Friends of our own Mind, Relations, Customers, Chapmen, Workmen, or others that we can have any Influence over, Quakers or no Quakers, if they will but come to Meetings and do as we do, if not, say as we say, and plead for said sad Hell-Practice; or atleast, Gentleman-like, connive, palliate and dissemble to extenuate the Crime; and we will with all our Might, Interest and Strength, put forth, keep out, and hinder or prevent coming into our Synagogues, any that will oppose, or condemn [page 26] our Practice, or us for continuing in it. And further, as we have the power of Discipline, our Ministers are forc’d, and must of Necessity come to us for Certificates or Letters to recommend them, which we are very ready to give if they are fit for our Turn and Practice, and very good ones too. If they be but very poorly qualified in Words, and worse in conduct and Life, yet they’ll serve a small Turn.
Matth. vii. 17. Every good Tree bringeth good Fruit, but a corrupt Tree bringeth evil Fruit.
Is there any eviler Fruit in the World than Slave-keeping? any thing more devilish ? it is of the very Nature of Hell itself, and is the Belly of Hell.
Verse 18. A good Tree cannot bring forth such cursed evil Fruit as Slave-trading, if this Practice be the worst, the greatest Sin in the World (with what goes and grows with it) as it is, to be sure.
But if any should say that good Trees, good Men, may be in this Practice and encourage it, and if they may [page 28] bring forth such Fruit, what Fruit must evil Trees bring forth. This will not hold by a Parity of Reason; comparing Things with Things by an Equality, it will not hold good in any case, much less in a religion sense; there it is very odious, to be sure, and is very soul in Ministers especially.
Let them keep on their Sheeps Cloathing, and preach and pray as long as they may, until their Tongues are weary, and their Hearers Ears too; they’ll preach more to Hell, I firmly believe, than they will to Heaven, while they continue in said Practice.
For Custom in Sin, hides, covers, as it were takes away the Guilt of Sin. Long Custom, the Conveniency of Slaves working for us, waiting and tending continually on us, besides the Washing, cleaning, scouring, cooking very nicely fine and curious, sewing, knitting, darning, almost ever at hand and Command; and in other Places milking, churning, Cheese-making, and all the Drudgery in Dairy and Kitchen, within doors and without. And the proud dainty, lazy Daughters sit with their hands before ‘em, like some of the worst idle Sort of Gentlewomen, and if they want a Trifle, [page 29] rather than rise from their Seats, call the poor Slave from her Drudgery to come and wait upon them. These Things have been the utter Ruin of more than a few; and yet encouraged by their own Parents, for whom my Spirit is grieved, some of which were and are Preachers in great Repute as well as others.
Now, dear Friends, behold a Mystery! These Ministers that be Slave–keepers and are in such very great Repute, such eminent Preachers, given to Hospitality, charitable to the Poor, loving to their Neighbours, just in their Dealings, temperate in their Lives, visiting of the Sick Sympathising with the Afflicted in the Body or Mind, very religious seemingly, and extraordinary devout and demure, and in short strictly exact in all their Decorums, except Slavekeeping, these, these be the Men, and the Women too, for the Devil’s purpose, are the choicest Treasure the Devil can or has to bring out of his Lazaretto, to establish Slave-keeping. By these Satan works Wonders many ways. These are the very men, or people of both Sexes, that come the nearest the Scribes & Pharisees of any People in the whole World, if not sincere: For the Scribes were exact and [page 30] demure seemingly in their appearance before men, according to Christ’s Account of them, and yet the worst Enemies the dear Lamb had, or that the Devil could Procure for or against him.
And I do surely believe that one such as these, now in this our Day, in this very Country, does more Service for the Devil, and Hurt in the Church, in Slave-keeping, than twenty Publicans and Harlots: For by their extraordinary Conduct, in Hypocrisy, smooth and plausible appearance, they draw into the Snare almost insensibly, and so beguile unstable Souls before they are aware which is sorrowful to consider as well as write, their Example being much more powerful than others.
And Friends, what I touched at a little before, concerning the delicate Damsels, or fine idle Dames, it may be pretty much like it with the young Men, and may be the old ones, that have their Negroes to Plow, sow, thresh, winnow, split Rails, cut Wood, clear Land, make Ditches and Fences, fodder Cattle, run and fetch up the Horses, or fine curious pacing Mares, for young Madam and Sir to ride about on, impudently and proudly gossiping from House to House, [page 31] stuffing their lazy ungodly Bellies. Then old Sir Master calls, Negro, fetch my best Gelding quickly, for me to ride to Meeting, to preach the Gospel of glad Tydings to all men, and Liberty to the Captives, and opening the Prison-Doors to them that are bound; but I’ll keep thee in Bondage nevertheless, help thy self if thee can. I charge thee to work very hard when I am gone, and before be very ready to wait on me & my Children when we come home, if they come with me, or else wait till they do come, and then take their Horses, and look well after them; and then make haste in, all of ye, and be ready to wait upon us, and keep good Fires abovestairs or below, and mind your Business well, or I’ll take a Course with you; don’t think that I’ll give 70 or 80 1.
apiece for you, for nothing but to ly lazying about like Gentleman, doing nothing, you shall work now you are young, for when you are very old, you will not do much, I suppose, and then you must be maintained, you and your Wives and Children and Children’s Children; and if you don’t behave your selves well, you’ll be but badly provided for, I believe, when you are past your Labour, whatsoever you are now.
Dear Friends, these Things are True in Fact, and have been the Ruin of many, [page 32] Body and Soul, and will be of more I greatly fear; beside and above all, the Soul Stain it brings upon the pure, blessed, unchangeable TRUTH.
And my Dear, my very dear Friends, I must say, I must say, and it is the Experience and certain Knowledge of my own Soul, that except People will be willing to come to a Separation, a Separation, a Separation, from this Thing, to wit, Negro Practice, they never can nor will see the Evil of it, as it really is in itself.
I say my own Experience when I lived in Barbadoes about 18 Years ago, where we had much Business in Trading, and the poor Blacks would come to our Shop and Store, hunger– starv’d, almost ready to perish with Hunger and Sickness, great Numbers of them would come to trade with us, for they seem to love and admire us, we being very much alike in Stature and other ways; and my dear Wife would often be giving them something for the Mouth, which was very engaging you that read this may be sure, in their deplorable Conditions. Oh! my Soul mourns in contemplating their miserable, forlorn, wretched State [page 33] and Condition that mine Eyes beheld them in then, and it is the same now, and I will remain except the great almighty Being, either immediately or instrumentally shall be pleased to put a Stop to it; for they are yearly by Shiploads poured in upon, and received by the People, many Thousands in one Year, Year after Year, as is thought, up and down America, besides what vast Numbers are increased by Generation daily. O Lord God Almighty, where will this Practice lead us that are called thy People, Dearest God, and make so great a Profession of being lead and guided by the eternal Spirit, which is the glorious Truth unchangeable and precious, and without End. But I trust, dearest One, thou wilt be pleased to stop and end this Practice, that is more like Hell than heaven, to be sure.
I having made a little Digression, may resume the Matter relating to my dear Wife, and the Negroes. She was a tender-hearted Woman, and, as I said, would be very often giving them something or other; stinking Biscuits which sometimes we had in abundance, bitten by the Cockroaches; or a rotten Cheese, [page 34] stinking Meat, decayed Fish, which we had plenty of in that hot Country; so my dear sweet Sarah, she would hand it to them, here and there to those that she thought wanted it most, tho’ all wanted enough, God Almighty knows, except here and there a favourite Slave, one of an hundred or thousand, may be, kept for their Glory and Pride to wait on them, amongst their proud, lazy, dainty, tyrannical, gluttonous, drunken, debauched Visitors, the Scum of the infernal Pit, a little worse than the same that comes off their Sugar when it is boiling, which is composed of Grease, Dirt, Dung, and other Filthiness, as, it may be Limbs, Bowels and Excrements of the poor Slaves, and Beasts, and other Matters, but this I say serves exceeding well to make Rum of, and Molosses, for that is the Use it is put to, with other Ingredients pretty much like it; and these People in the Islands may laugh at us for being ridiculously infatuated, to send away our excellent good Provisions, and other good Things, to purchase such filthy Stuff, which tends to the Corruption of Mankind, and may be send us some of the worst of their Slaves, when they cannot rule them themselves, along with [page 35] their Rum, to compleat the Tragedy, that is to say, to destroy the People in Pennsylvania, and ruin the Country. Dear Friends, or any of my Fellow Creatures, I must confess I am apt to disgress, but when such dangerous Filthiness comes in my way, I think it my Duty to make it appear if possible to others; for it is so to me, exceeding sinful above Measure, I will assure you, more than what I can speak or write abundantly; if it should be so to you, I hope you will endeavour to avoid it, and pray for Heavens Assistance, without which all is nothing. As to what was touched on before, when my dear Sarah had given to them what she thought fit withindoors, we have taken some more of the same sort and thrown it into the Street, stinking as to be sure it was, yet the poor Creatures would come running, and tearing, and rending one another, to get a part in the scramble of that which I am sure some Dogs would not touch, much less eat of, their poor Bellies were so empty, and so ravenous were they, that I never saw a parcel of Hounds more eager about a dead Carcase, than they always were. This Scramble was commonly on First Day, before we went [page 36] to meeting, which was their Market day, as well as their Hallowing-Day, when they are exempted from their Labour, they come down to Town, many Hundreds of them, they that could get or steal any Thing, a little Sugar, or Cotton, Ginger, Aloes, Rum, Cocoa-Nuts, Pine-Apples, Oranges, Lemmons, Citrons, old Iron, Wood for Firing, steal any Thing out of Houses, Yards or anywhere, or any Thing that was not too hot or too heavy, and bring it to Market on a Sunday, as they call it, to get a penny, or something for the Mouth, and they that could not get anything to bring to Market, they would come to Town if possibly they could hold out and keep from falling down and fainting by the Way, being perished with Hunger and hard Labour the Week before; I say these very miserable Objects that could get no Truck in the Country to bring to Market, yet they would if possible come to Town, and see what they could beg or steal there. (Who can blame them if it was ten times worse, they being under such unmerciful Tyrants.) These Wretches being in Town in this miserable Condition, with not a Crum of good or bad to put into their [page 37] Mouths, ready to drop as they walked or crawled along the Streets, they many of them hearing of us, for we were very much known amongst them, they would come to our Door, if they came before we were gone to Meeting, and there they would stand as thick as Bees, but much more like Pharaoh’s lean Kine, and I may say their Appearance was dismal enough to move a very hard Heart; so we used to give them a little of something at Times, as we found some Freedom, considering our Circumstances; But if we gave to some, and did not to all, as to be sure we could not, oh how the poor Creatures would look. I say many Hundreds would come and flock about us; and them that receiv’d, O how thankful, with bended Knees; but them that did not, what Words can set forth the dejected sinking Looks that appeared in their Countenances. Shall I ever forget them?