EXTRACT OF A LETTER TO A GENTLEMAN IN MARYLAND; Wherein is demonstrated the extreme wickedness of tolerating the Slave Trade, in order to [...]avour the illegalities of our Colonies, where the Two First Foundations of English Law, (Two Wit­nesses of God) are supplanted by opposite (and of course illegal) ordinances, which occasions a Civil Death of the English Constitution, so that these Two Witnesses may be said to lie dead in all the West India Islands!



A Remark, which I made many years ago, respecting the illegality of taking up Slaves that had escaped from their masters, had been useful (I was informed) to some friends of humanity in America, in their endeavours to protect those poor oppressed people. I cannot now find a copy of that paper, but the argument was chiefly built on a reference to a text in Deut. ch. xxiii. v. 15, 16.— Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee: He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in the place WHICH HE SHALL CHOOSE’ (manifestly as [Page 4]a freeman) in one of thy GATES where IT LIKETH HIM BEST: thou shalt not oppress him. This, I observed, was no part of the abrogated ceremonial law of the Jews; but, manifestly, a moral law, because the reason of it still remains:-so that it must be of indispensible obligation as long as the hateful oppressions of Slave-holders afford us any occasions of exercising this duty to God of pro­tecting the Slaves that escape from their masters; and consequently I asserted that any colonial law, which opposes this ordinance of God, by ordering the arresting and delivering up runaway Slaves, or which, in any way, tends to deprive them of due legal protection, is, of course, to be deemed a corruption, null and void in itself, as being contrary to the second foundation of English law. This necessary consequence I urged from a well known maxim of the English law respecting Statutes, (acts of Assembly, or acts of Parliament) nec contra RATIONEM, nec contra LEGEM DIVINAM" (statuta) existunt. (Doct. et Stud. c. 10. p. 35. b.) —That Statutes exist not against REASON, nor against the DIVINE LAW," and that "an unjust law is NOT LAW.’ "Lex injusta non est lex." Prin. Leg. et Aequit.) And again, that these two laws, (viz. the Law of Reason, and the Law Divine) "cannot abate, or turn aside"‘Hae duae Leges declinari non possunt.’ Doct. et Stud. c. 17. p. 52.

But I have since had occasion to regard these two fundamental laws of the English constitution, with still more awful attention; and therefore I must farther remark, that the first foundation, the law of REASON, (as including all the laws of na­ture, [Page 5]justice, and natural right) is certainly to be deemed the law of God, as well as the second foun­dation (the divine precepts in the Holy Scriptures), because the former is defined by high legal autho­rity, to be "the law written upon the heart of man," (and of course is the law of nature) which cannot therefore be obliterated, nor changed by time or place, but ought every where, and among all men, to be maintained, because THE LAWS OF NATURE ARE IMMUTABLE"—"Lex rationis in corde scribitur, ideo deleri non potest, nec etiam recipit mutationem ex loco nec tempore, sed ubique, et inter omnes homines servari debet. Nam JURA NATURALIA IMMUTABILIA SUNT. Et ratio immutationis est quod recipiunt naturam rei pro fundamento, quae semper eadem est et ubique.’ (Doct. et Stud. c. 2. p. 5.) This amply demon­strates the propriety of declaring the law of Reason to be the first foundation of English law; as being "the law of God, written" (as it were) on the heart of man—It is that knowledge of good and evil in man,’ which may fairly be deemed a participation of "the Divine Wisdom," or of Christ himself, that true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (John i. 9.) and of course renders every man obnoxious, through the knowledge of right and law, to the divine vengeance for disobedience! Our first pa­rents wilfully assumed this knowledge, contrary to an express command of their Creator, (being de­luded by the spiritual enemy) and thereby entailed death and condemnation on all their posterity, laying them under an absolute necessity to obtain redemp­tion [Page 6]by a still farther participation of the same "Divine Wisdom," or "Word of God."

There is also another legal term or title, for this first foundation of law; viz. the eternal law, which in our books is properly defined to mean exactly the same authority as the law of reason, i. e. the supreme reason of DIVINE ‘WISDOM, by which GOD WILLS that all things created by him, be moved and directed to a good and proper end.—LEX AETERNA nihil aliud est quam ipsa SUMMA RATIO GUBERNATIONIS RERUM IN DEO, sive illa summa ratio DIVINAE SAPIENTIAE, qua vult DEUS omnia a se condita moveri, et dirigi ad bonum et debitum finem, &c. (Doct. et Stud. c. 1. p. 2.)—and again, The LAW ETERNAL, under another description, is called a perpetual and constant WILL to give to every one his RIGHT. Lex Aeterna sub alia des­criptione dicitur perpetua et constans VOLUNTAS JUS SUUM UNICUIQUE TRIBUENS.’ (ibid.) Here then we find an immoveable foundation of justice, of right, of the rights of man, of righteous­ness, of the law of nature, &c. for all these terms are parallel, or of the same import; and are ne­cessarily included in the law of reason or eternal law, which is properly called the first law — LEX etiam AETERNA dicitur LEX PRIMA, et bene dicitur prima, nam fuit ante omnes alias leges: et omnes aliae leges dirivantur ab ea:—The LAW ETERNAL is called the FIRST LAW, and well is it called the first, for it was before all other laws; and all other laws are derived from it. In this solemn view of the first foundation of English law, it must evidently be deemed "a witness of God," [Page 7]as well as the second foundation, the written word of God in the Holy Scriptures; and both foundations may well be expressed together by the more com­pendious terms of "natural and revealed religion." In no instance whatever are these TWO WITNESSES OF GOD more obviously and undeniably resisted than in the toleration of slavery and the Slave Trade, because these oppressions are iniquities which militate against both the foundations, and therefore the present public question, whether the Slave Trade ought or ought not to be abolished, may fairly be deemed an infallible touch-stone to dis­cover the treachery of pretended loyalists; for no man can be truly loyal to God and his country, who is so totally devoid of first principles, as to favour slavery! Let those who have ignorantly done so, recover their credit by redoubled endea­vours to restore the honour and constitutional law of their country, which has been wounded by their treacherous neglect of the foundations of law, whereby they will otherwise incur that indelible stain of infamy, which our common LAW deservedly fixes on all persons who betray the law of the land, Legem terrae amittentes perpetuam infamiae notam inde merito incurrunt. (3 Inst. p. 221). But mark the authorities of our common law to this purpose—"Liberty," is declared by the maxims of the first foundation, to be "inestimable"Libertas est res inestimabilis (Jenk. Cent. 52.) and Li­berty is the greatest jewel. (Grounds & Rudim. of Law and Equity, p. 196.) and therefore cruel of necessity must that law be deemed, which aug­menteth slavery, and diminisheth liberty—says the excellent and worthy Chancellor Fortescue, [Page 8]who in very dark times of prevailing bestial power, nobly asserted the supreme immutable authority of God's two witnesses, as manifested in the first prin­ciples of our English common law, or legal con­stitution. "For in behalf of liberty" (says he), "human nature always implores" (or solicits fa­vour), because Slavery is introduced by man, and for vice; but LIBERTY is implanted BY GOD, in the very nature of man: wherefore when stolen by man, it always earnestly longs to re­turn, as does every thing which is deprived of natural liberty; for which reason the man who does not favour liberty is to be adjudged IMPIOUS and CRUEL. The laws of England acknowledg­ing these" (principles,) "give favour to liberty in every case. *—A part of this sentence is cited by Lord Coke, as a maxim of our common law,Impius et crudelis, judicandus est qui libertati non favet.’ (Co. Lit. 124.)—viz. Impious and cruel is the man to be adjudged, who does not favour liberty. The opposite condition, there­fore, to liberty, viz. slavery, is properly declared by one of our oldest English authorities in law, Fleta, to be "contrary to nature. " (Fleta, 2d edit. p. 1.) [Page 9]which expression of Fleta is really a maxim of the civil or Roman law (See Inst. Lib. 1. tit. 3. leg. 2.); and though such appeals in the Roman code to the foundations of law, could not restrain the belluina potestas of Roman tyranny in any of the ten kingdoms of the beast, as clearly foretold in the scriptures, nor prevent improper additions to the code under the name of law; yet surely the friends of Liberty may be thankful to the Justinian code for the authority of its testimony against slavery: for when the two first foundations of law shall hereafter be restored, through God's mercy, to their due power and effect,—when these two witnesses of God shall stand upon their feet, and ascend into Heaven, (i. e. be established above all human authority, and be acknowledged as the irresistable will of God, which must ‘BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN;)’ then shall our deluded Statesmen, Lawyers, Commercial Politicians, and Planters, be compelled to understand that a more for­cible expression of illegality and iniquity could not have been used than that by which SLAVERY is defined in the Roman code, as well as by our English Fleta,—i. e. that it is "CONTRA NATU­RAM," "AGAINST NATURE;" for consequent­ly it must be utterly illegal, a crime which by the first foundation of English law, is justly deemed both IMPIOUS and CRUEL, and which in the strong figurative language of God's prophets, under the second foundation of our law, is compared to the guilt of cannabalism, or eating human flesh, as I have shewn in my remonstrance to the Citizens [Page 10]of London, * and therefore these unnatural crimes of Slavery, and the Slave-Trade, must necessarily be deemed, like all other unnatural crimes, detest­able, abominable, and damnable, both to the souls and bodies of all that willfully promote them! The severity of these expressions cannot be restrained without injustice to the high authorities on which this argument is founded.

[Page 11] It would be an awful inquiry to trace the time when the English Nation was rendered obnoxious by Slavery, to the application of these horrible epithets, impious, cruel, &c. And it is wonderful how the unnatural crime could so long be over­looked, until usage and custom had established in all the British Colonies, as a right, this enormous wrong; to the perversion of all legal terms. We [Page 12]cannot conceive that the admission of Slavery into the Colonies has been intentional on the part of government at home, but merely through want of a fixt attention to the two first principles of law and religion. But the sworn Judges of the Colonial Courts (when the oppression first began,) were without excuse for permitting the evil of Slavery to take root without warning their Royal Masters of the illegality, knowing that the consti­tutional law of the kingdom, is to deny justice to no man without exception, (nulli negabimus aut differemus justitiam; Magna Charta.) and know­ing that they themselves are sworn to do justice and judgment without respect of persons,—and also that under a legal English Government, there can be but one law for all descriptions of persons, according to two excellent maxims of the first foundation; * and consequently that without na­tional reprobacy, there could be no such personal distinctions in law as SLAVEHOLDER and SLAVE, so that they must be bound in duty to their King and Country, to prevent in the King's name any such oppression as Slaveholding. They ought to have known, that the limited temporal permission which had been granted to the Israelites to hold Slaves, was absolutely annulled by a subsequent command of God, ‘to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke, (Isaiah c. lviii. v. 5 and [Page 13]6). There is no exception to this command, which proves that a total Abolition of Slavery was at that time, the declared Will of God: which is still more clearly demonstrated by a future denun­ciation against the practice of Slaveholders, by the prophet Jeremiah, just before the Israelites them­selves were to be carried into Slavery for their op­pressions and neglect of God's laws.

Woe be to him that useth his neighbour's service WITHOUT WAGES, and giveth him not for his work. These are moral laws of eternal obliga­tion, (though recorded in the Old Testament) be­cause the reason, justice, and mercy of them are still obvious; for "ratio legis est anima legis," and there­fore surely woe is most alarmingly due to all govern­ments, or pretended legal establishments, which sanction such notorious injustice and oppression! Should a total disregard of the two first foun­dations of the Engish Law and Constitution pre­vail, we shall have not only to dread the in­famy incurred, according to the maxim, Le­gem Terrae amittentes, &c. but also to look for divine retribution from him who has promised to destroy the destroyers of the earth, and to lead into captivity those that led into captivity! And indeed after the most careful investigation of all the prophetical marks of the antichristian beast, and its image, compared with preceding times, ac­cording to the best Chronological Histories, I am convinced that the accomplishment and end of the tyranny (not by human means, but "without hand") must be nearly approaching! The divine ven­geance seems ready to be poured upon us!

[Page 14] Let not the inhabitants of Maryland and Caro­lina conceive, that because their territories are not included within the bounds of the four great mo­narchies, the theatre of the prophetical examples of Divine vengeance, that they shall be less liable to the awful effects of it! For be assured that when the ten kingdoms of Bestial Roman Government are destroyed, the will of God, as expressed in the two foundations of English law, natural and re­vealed religion, (God's two witnesses) will cer­tainly be established "on earth as it is in heaven," according to the universal prayer of the Christian church.—Nay, it will be established under the whole heaven, (Daniel vii. 27.) so that the only effectual means of avoiding this universal destruction of bestial illegality, is to acknowledge, reverence, and establish, the two first foundations of English Law above all other authorities; for that must be the universal effect of the kingdom of Christ on earth.

If the Legislators and Lawyers of Maryland and the Carolinas, shall be able to suggest any thing like an argument in opposition to the high legal au­thorities which I have cited, they must have more subtile heads and worse hearts than I am willing to attribute to any one, who is not obviously actuated by the grand spiritual enemy of man!


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