that which is just and equal: knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.”
But what may the apostle mean by this precept?
The view before taken of the right
will justify a departure from the usual line of thought on this subject.
To give any one that which is just
is to confer upon him that which is his right.
To give that which is just and equal, is a form of expression that may limit the term “just” to its legal sense, that is, confer on him all the rights guaranteed to him by law. There is a special necessity for this command in any state of society.
For whatever advantages the law might confer on the slave, his subordinate relation, and the superior position and authority of the master, will of necessity place it in his power to defeat the provisions of the law in favor of the slave.
But the command goes farther than this: Give unto your servants that which is equal, equitable
, that is, justice in a moral sense, or that which is right
--good in itself.
Whatever provision the law might make for the benefit of the slave, as a slave, might be secured to him by his master, and yet many of his natural and acquired rights might be overlooked, and the claims of Christian charity annulled.
To fulfil the command, however, we must give the slave equity
, as well as legal justice: we must do unto the slave what we would have the slave to do