then it is only relatively, not absolutely, so; for if it were rendered entirely free, by excluding the operation of the principle of slavery altogether, it would be reduced at once to a form of government which authorizes every man to do in all things and in all respects just as he might please to do — a guaranty which in the present state of fallen human nature it could never make good, and, therefore, virtually it would be no government at all.
Seeing that the abstract principle of slavery enters necessarily and essentially as an element into every form of civil government, it is worse than idle to affirm that it is wrong, per se
. But more than this, it has the sanction of Jehovah: for government, of which we have seen it is a necessary element, is expressly declared in Holy Scripture to be his ordinance.
It entered largely into the theocracy by which he governed the Jewish nation; and indeed is equally prominent in the government which he exercises over all man-kind, if we take it in its wide sense as comprehending the ultimate rewards and punishments that await us in a future state.
How imbecile then is it to say of the system of slavery that it is wrong in the abstract — wrong in principle!
How little do men consider what they affirm in this declaration!
Certainly no man in his senses