Sharp, Granville Law of Liberty, or the Royal Law ... [abolitionism]
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Title continued: "... Earnestly recommended to the serious consideration of all slaveholders and slavedealers." With 4 pages of printed advertisements.
[Draft Created by Crowdsourcing]
LAW OF LIBERTY,
By which all Mankind will certainly be judged!
LAW OF LIBERTY,
ALL MANKIND WILL CERTAINLY
EARNESTLY RECOMMENDED TO THE
SLAVEHOLDERS AND SLAVEDEALERS.
BY GRANVILLE SHARP.
"So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be JUDGED
"by THE LAW OF LIBERTY." Jam. ii. 12.
Printed for B. WHITE, at Horace's Head, in Fleet Street;
and E. and C. DILLY, in the Poultry.
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LAW OF LIBERTY,
IN two former Tracts I have attempted to describe the JUST LIMITATION OF SLAVERY IN THE LAWS OF GOD, and THE LAW OF PASSIVE OBEDIENCE, with respect more particularly to the due SUBMISSION of Christian Servants or Slaves to their Masters.
The purpose of the present Tract is not only to point out the reciprocal duty of Christian Masters to their Servants, and all other persons with whom they are connected, but also more particularly
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to enable our British American Slaveholders to examine or measure (with very little trouble) by the Rule of God's Holy Word, the Legality or Illegality of Slavery among Christians. For this purpose some of the clearest and most essential Maxims or Principles of Scripture are selected and compared with each other in the following pages.
"So speak ye, and so do, as they that
"shall be JUDGED by THE LAW OF
This is the earnest advice of the Apostle James in his General Epistle; (ii. 12.) and as it is therefore manifest that we shall certainly BE JUDGED by "THE "LAW OF LIBERTY," it becomes a business of the utmost importance to ascertain what particular Law is thereby to be understood, that we may write it on our hearts, since our everlasting hap-
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piness depends upon it, and the peril of eternal damnation seems to attend a breach of it; "for he shall have JUDG"MENT WITHOUT MERCY" (says the Apostle in the following verse) "who"hath shewed NO MERCY!" The necessary premises for the examination of the question are nothing less than the fundamental moral Principles of Christianity; and if I am rather prolix in defining them, I hope the importance of the subject will be considered as a sufficient excuse; for indeed the subject is not only important to those persons for whose use this Tract is particularly intended (I mean those persons who desire to be satisfied concerning THE LEGALITY or ILLEGALITY OF SLAVERY AMONG CHRISTIANS) but to all Mankind besides of every rank and denomination.
All the moral duties of the Gospel are briefly comprehended in two single
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Principles of the Law of Moses, viz. THE LOVE OF GOD, and THE LOVE OF OUR NEIGHBOUR. Nothing, therefore, can be esteemed truly lawful under the Gospel, that is, in the least, repugnant to either of these; and we need never be at a loss to distinguish what is, or what is not so, if we will but carefully consider the proportion or degree of that Love, which is clearly expressed to be due, both to God and our Neighbour in these two comprehensive and eternal maxims. The degree of Love due to God exceeds all comparison of consideration of other things; for it must (says the text) be "with ALL thy heart, and with "ALL "thy soul, and with ALL thy might." (Deut. vi. 5.) which necessarily implies a most fervent zeal for the glory of GOD, far exceeding all worldly considerations. And with respect to the degree or true proportion of Love due to our Neighbour, we have no pretence to plead ignorance,
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since the appointed measure of it is contained in every Man's Breast-" THOU "SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS "THYSELF. (Lev. xix. 18.) "On "these two Commandments" (said the Eternal Judge) "hang ALL THE LAW "and THE PROPHETS." (Mat. 22. 40.) The same Eternal Judge of Mankind made also, on another occasion, a similar declaration concerning the Sum or Compendium "OF THE LAW AND THE "PROPHETS" - "All things whatsoever "ye would that Men should do to you" (said he) "do ye even so to them; for "this is THE LAW AND THE PRO"PHETS." (Matth. vii. 12.) This most excellent rule of conduct and behaviour towards our Neighbours, which includes the whole Substance or Spirit of "THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS," so perfectly corresponds with the second great Commandment, to LOVE our Neighbours as ourselves (viz. to manifest our
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LOVE, by DOING to them, as we ourselves might WITH REASON AND JUSTICE expect and desire THEY WOULD DO UNTO US) that it seems intended like a sort of paraphrase to explain the true tenour of it; for though the mode of expression is different, yet the effect of the doctrine is undoubtedly the same; because the Apostle Paul has in like manner declared this second great Commandment to be the Compendium of "all the Law." "All "the Law" (says he) "is fulfilled in one " word, even in this: Thou shalt LOVE "thy Neighbour AS THYSELF." (Gal. v. 14.
SELF-LOVE, therefore, must be the RULE or MEASURE (not of Self-gratification, or private Interest, but) of our Conduct and Behaviour towards other Men! It must not be SOLE TENANT of the heart; but is always to leave equal room for a due balance of that Love which we
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owe to our Neighbour, whenever the present circumstances (whatever they may be) require a conscientious regard to the publick Good, or a sympathetick consideration for the Feelings and Sufferings of Individuals, to enable us to fulfil our Duty to our Neighbour. SELF-LOVE is not hereby excluded; for Self-preservation, and a prudent regard for our own support and happiness, may still be allowed an equal Share of our consideration, without a Breach of this second great Commandment, which would otherwise be too hard and difficult for Human Nature to receive: we are not commanded therein to love our Neighbours MORE than ourselves, but only ([??]) AS ourselves; so that SELF-LOVE is apparently the true Measure of our Conduct and Behaviour towards other Men: and though an exalted Sense of Duty to God (according to the first great Commandment) may, in some particular cases, prompt Men to noble
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actions, wherein SELF-LOVE may seem to be lost in a generous and benevolent regard to others (of which there are several instances in Scripture, as I have elsewhere shewn (1); and also though the like admirable generosity and perfect disinterestedness may, possibly, upon some unforeseen occasion, become likewise the peculiar duty of any one of us, viz. "to lay down (our) Lives for the Bre- "thren (2), 1 John iii. 16. yet as this far exceeds the measure of Love laid
(1) See my Tract on the Law of Nature, and Principles of Action in Man. P. 79-105.
(2) Hereby perceive we (or rather, it should be rendered, Hereby have we perceived) "the LOVE (of God), "because he laid down his Life for us" (said the Apostle, and then he immediately informs us of the duty which arises from that extraordinary manifestation of LOVE) "AND WE OUGHT (says he) TO LAY DOWN (our) "LIVES FOR THE BRETHREN." 1 John iii. 16. This plain declaration of our duty ([????? ?????????], &c. "WE OUGHT to lay down our Lives," &c.) sufficiently enables us to account for the many extraordinary examples of SELF-LOVE being superseded by more noble Principles, some of which I have cited in my Tract on the Law of
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down in the second great Commandment, which is given us as the general
Nature, and Principles of Action in Man, p. 79-105, to which also the following may be added.
THE GRATITUDE of the Galatians to their Teacher Paul, is expressed by that Apostle in the strongest terms- "I bear you record (says he) that if it had been possible, ye "would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given "them to me." Gal. iv. 15.
Not inferior to this was the LOVE of that same Apostle himself towards the Corinthians, though they were so far from returning a mutual affection like the Galatians, that the Apostle, it seems, had reason to complain of their INGRATITUDE-"I will very gladly SPEND, AND BE "SPENT for you (literally "for your Souls," said he) "though the more abundantly I LOVE you, the less I be "LOVED." 2 Cor. xii. 15.
To "SPEND, AND BE SPENT" for others, and that "very gladly!" is the strongest expression of disinterested LOVE that could have been chosen! It implies a chearful sacrifice of every thing that is dear in this world (LIFE ITSELF NOT EXCEPTED!) "and greater Love hath no "Man than this, that a Man lay down his Life for his "friends." John xv. 13. So that, as no Man can have greater Love than this, we may certainly esteem it the highest demonstration of "perfect Love;" and as the sentence last quoted from the Apostle John relates, in its primary application, to the voluntary sacrifice which Christ made of himself to save Mankind, it leads us to the true foundation of that "perfect Love" enjoined in the Scrip-
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or ordinary Rule of Life, we may be assured, that such a very difficult duty,
tures, which (as the preceding examples demonstrate) does occasionally overcome the general Principle of "Self-"love," and every other interested Motive natural to "MAN!
The Apostle John informs us, no less than twice in one chapter, that "GOD IS LOVE!" (? ???? ????? ????. 1 John iv. 8. ? ???? ????? ???. ibid. v. 16.)
This information is introduced in an argument, whereby the Apostle endeavours to inculcate a due sense of the necessity we are laid under, to love one another, because GOD hath first loved us: so that GRATITUDE TO GOD must be the foundation of our "Love to one another;" and we are therefore bound to imitate (and will certainly endeavour to imitate, if "GOD DWELLETH IN US." See 1 John iv. 13. 16.) that glorious Attribute of the Divine Nature, LOVE ("GOD IS LOVE") which he has manifested towards us, by sacrificing all that could be truly perfect and dear in his sight, even his only begotten Son, who also voluntarily submitted himself (for our happiness and eternal welfare) to the most severe temporal sufferings, and trials, even unto death!
TO GOD, and to the ETERNAL WORD, therefore, (to whom we are indebted, not only for that extraordinary manifestation of LOVE, but for all other things that we enjoy, even for our very existence) our return of LOVE, must be UNLIMITED; and the natural Principle of SELF-LOVE, which is given as the measure of our LOVE to our Neighbour in the Law of Liberty, or second great Command-
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as that of laying down our Lives for the Brethren, can only be required of us on
ment, must be entirely suppressed whenever it falls in competition with the Love of God enjoined in the first great Commandment; and though this doctrine is very hard and difficult to be received, and much more difficult to be practised, as it includes the most exalted Heroism and Greatness of Soul that Human Nature is capable of attaining, yet we have ample reason to hope and trust (as the discharge of our Duty to our Neighbour includes and fulfils the most essential part of our Duty to God) that those men, who carefully endeavour to make "the Law of Liberty," (I mean the second great Commandment) their general or ordinary Rule of Conduct IN LIFE, will not want due assistance from the Almighty to enable them to fulfil also the duty which arises from the first great Commandment, even UNTO DEATH, if any extraordinary emergency should require such a manifestation of their LOVE; because we are assured by the Scriptures, that "GOD dwelleth" in those men, who maintain the proper measure of Love and Benevolence for the rest of mankind.
"BELOVED" (said the beloved Apostle) "let us LOVE "one another: for LOVE is of GOD, and every one that "LOVETH is born of GOD, and knoweth GOD. He that "LOVETH NOT knoweth not God, FOR GOD IS LOVE. "In this was manifested the LOVE OF GOD towards us, "because that GOD sent his only begotten Son into the world, "that we might live through him. Herein is LOVE, not "that WE LOVED GOD, but that he LOVED US, and sent "his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. BELOVED, IF "GOD SO LOVED US, we ought also to LOVE ONE ANO-
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very extraordinary occasions, as in times of persecution, or on other such pressing emergencies, when some very singular Good or Benefit to our Friends, our Country, or Mankind in general, apparently depends upon our perseverance unto death for their sakes, in a just cause to the Glory of God; or to the manifestation of his revealed Truth, for their confirmation and example! This is, indeed, the best and most noble foundation, not only for true PATRIOTISM in all Men, as Members, respectively, of some particular Nation, but also for UNIVERSAL BENEVOLENCE, as Citizens of the World; which latter Duty should always regulate and limit the former (viz. PATRIOTISM) by the eternal Rules of
"THER. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, GOD DWELLETH IN US, and his LOVE "is perfected in us." 1 John iv. 7-12. And again, in the 16th verse-" We have known and believed the LOVE "that God hath to us. GOD IS LOVE, and he that dwelleth "in LOVE, DWELLETH IN GOD, AND GOD IN HIM. "Herein is our LOVE MADE PERFECT, &c.
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natural Equity and Justice. But though a chearful obedience in this ultimate Duty of laying down our Lives, and sacrificing Self-love, and every temporal Blessing for the Good of others, does undoubtedly exalt HUMAN NATURE to the highest pitch of Heroism and real Dignity, let us all, nevertheless, pray God (as in effect we do by that comprehensive expression in our daily prayers - "Lead us not into temptation") to preserve us from any such severe trials of our Obedience and LOVE to him as the necessity of of "laying down our Lives "for the Brethren;" left, through the want of presence of mind, or unwariness, or through weakness and natural infirmity, any of us should unhappily shrink back from that ultimate Duty, and thereby incur the dreadful condemnation of those that deny Christ before Men! Let us also be truly thankful, that the absolute Command, in the
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second great Branch of our Duty, by which all Mankind are to be JUDGED (as shall hereafter be shewn) extends no farther than to limit SELF-LOVE by a sympathetick Consideration of Fellowfeeling for our Neighbour's welfare, let the former (Self-love) should be considered as the proper and "universal "Principle of Action," and thereby endanger the peace and happiness of Society by its partial instigations: let me add too, that if SELF-LOVE is not thus restrained, it will defeat its own Purpose and fixed Principles of Self-preservation, by incurring a dreadful and eternal Doom!
The OMISSION of an Act of Mercy and Benevolence towards our Neighbour, when it is in our power, and occasion requires it, is declared by out Lord, the Saviour of the World, to be as gross an affront, even to himself, as if he had been
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personally neglected and denied by us! "Inasmuch (says he) as ye did it not to "one of the least of these, YE DID IT "NOT TO ME." Matt. xxv. 45. And if SINS of OMISSION, even towards the meanest of our Brethren, are by OUR LORD esteemed as a personal Affront to himself, we may be assured, that the actual COMMISSION of Injuries will be infinitely more heinous in his sight, and cannot escape his just Vengeance. We must remember also, that this Declaration of our Lord will be made to those miserable wretches, who shall stand "on "the Left Hand," after the tremendous final sentence is passed upon them! "Depart from me ye Cursed, into ever-"lasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels!" See verse 41.
It is manifest therefore, that a Violation of THE LOVE THAT IS DUE TO OUR NEIGHBOUR, is a Violation also of
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THE LOVE OF GOD; and, on the contrary, the latter is perfected by a strict obedience to the former - "If we LOVE one another" (says the beloved Apostle) "God dwelleth in us, and HIS LOVE IS "PERFECTED IN US." (1 John iv. 12.) So that the two great Commandments appear to be reciprocally included and blended together in their consequences; by which we may more readily perceive the propriety of our Lord's declaration, that the second great Commandment is like unto the first (3); and this reciprocal connexion between them enables us also to comprehend the reason why the second is given alone (when BOTH are undoubtedly necessary) as the grand test of Christian obedience, and as the sum and es-
(3) "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy "heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. "This is the first and great Commandment. AND THE "SECOND IS LIKE UNTO IT, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thyself. On these two Commandments hang all "the Law and the Prophets." (Matt. xxii. 37. to 40.)
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sence of the whole Law of God. "For "all the Law is fulfilled" (says the Apostle Paul) "in one word, (even) in this, Thou "shalt love thy Neighbour as thyself." (Gal. v. 14.)
Now a continued multiplication of Statutes (as in England, where the number exceeds the capacity of the human Memory) affords matter only for Equivocation, Doubt, and Evasion, whereby SOUND LAW is vitiated and corrupted; and the loathsome Prostitute, still retaining the Name of LAW, arises (like the Harlot POPERY from pure CHRISTIANITY) in another Dress! She is clothed with the many-coloured garment of misconstruction, and seats herself at the right hand of the unjust judge, prompting him with wily Subterfuges, and bad Precedents instead of LAW; whereby he is enabled to ensnare the innocent, and screen the guilty. But, on the other hand, when we consider that "ALL LAW" is
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reduced to so small a compass, that it may be accounted, comparatively, as ONE WORD, there is no room left for offenders to plead Ignorance, as an excuse for having violated the general Laws of Morality, and the natural Rights of Mankind. Let me therefore exhort my opponents, as they regard their own eternal welfare, to take this subject into their most serious consideration, and no longer refuse to acknowledge this glorious WORD or Maxim, as the TRUE MEASURE (except a still greater measure of LOVE is required (4) of all their actions, and more especially with respect to the present point before us, the Legality or Illegality of Slavery among Christians! For this question, by infallible necessity, falls under the decision of this very Law; because it sets before us our own personal Feelings, as the proper Measure or Standard of our Behaviour to other
(4) This exception relates only to such extraordinary cases of emergency as are mentioned in pages 12 to 17.
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Men; for Tyrants, Slaveholders, Extortioners, and other Oppressors, would most certainly dislike to be treated as they treat others; so that this compendious Law necessarily excludes the least Toleration of Slavery, or of any other Oppression, which an innocent Man (5) would be unwilling to experience in his own person from another.
(5) On the other hand, notorious offenders, that are clearly convicted of their crimes by the laws of the land, may, consistently with reason and justice, be punished with a temporary DEPRIVATION OF LIBERTY, provided they be not sold to strangers, nor even to their own countrymen, to be subjected to private dominion, or the absolute rule of individuals, which is dreadfully baneful to morality! The community at large (and that community only whose Laws they have broken) can alone have any RIGHT to detain them in bondage; and this RIGHT of detaining should be moderated by such wholesome regulations for the religious instruction, as well as employment, of the unhappy convicts, as should apparently tend more to their reformation, (to render them worthy of being speedily restored to Liberty) than to any other object; and no persons whatsoever should be entrusted with the care, instruction, or employment of such public delinquents, without being subject to the inspection and legal controul of the king's judges, and of other regular crown officers of the Law department (but of no other crown officers as such whatever) as also of the county courts of assizes and sessions,
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We must therefore acknowledge this heavenly maxim to be the true standard, not only of mutual Benevolence among MEN, but also, of our Love and Duty to God; since it includes the first great Commandment, by "perfecting the Love "of God in us," as I have before remarked (see p.20.); so that it must necessarily be esteemed the most sure and best foundation "of PERFECT LIBERTY." And accordingly we find it expressly distinguished in Scripture by the title of "the Law of Liberty."
"So speak ye, and so do," (says the Apostle James) "as they that shall be "judged by THE LAW OF LIBERTY," (James ii. 12.) This title properly belongs, indeed, to the whole Law, or
courts of inquest, grand juries, justices of the peace, sheriffs, and of such other legal guardians of the public peace, for and in behalf of the public, lest the cause of liberty should suffer by the influence of any innovation in that respect.
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Gospel of Christ, and seems to be so applied by the same Apostle in the preceding chapter (25th verse) wherein he speaks of "the perfect LAW OF LIBER-"TY."-Yet the general application of the title does not lessen the propriety of that particular application, which I conceive to have been intended by the Apostle in this 2d chapter, because the precept in question is a complete Compendium of Christian Morality, containing (as I have before observed) the very Essence of the whole Gospel, or general LAW OF LIBERTY, with respect to our Duty towards Men, and has, therefore, an indisputable Right, also, to the general Title of the whole. But there are other reasons to justify the application of this general Title of the Gospel to that one comprehensive Word, or Maxim, in which "all the Law is fulfilled."-Though the Apostle James seems to mean the whole Gospel in that passage of
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his first chapter, wherein he mentions "THE PERFECT LAW OF LIBERTY."-Yet the whole tenor of his argument in the 2d chapter, where he again mentions THE LAW OF LIBERTY, is apparently founded on the Principles of the glorious Maxim in question-- "THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGH-"BOUR AS THYSELF;" for the Subject, in the beginning of the chapter, particularly relates to the Duty we owe to OUR NEIGHBOURS, being a warning against "Respect of Persons," or Partiality; and as the Maxim in question forbids even Self-preference, by directing us to "love "our Neighbours (??) AS ourselves," it is so apparently suitable to the Apostle's subject, that he expressly cites it under the eminent title of the "Royal Law (????? ????????? <I think "Royal Law" would be "????????? ?????"?>) to enforce his argument. "My "Brethren" (says he) "have not the "Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ" (the Lord) "of Glory, WITH RESPECT OF
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"PERSONS;" and then, after charging them in the 2d and 3d verses with Partiality, in preferring a well-dressed Man in their assemblies to the Poor, and after appealing to them thereupon in the 4th and 5th verses, saying, "Are ye not "partial in yourselves," &c. and also, after reproving them (in the 6th and 7th verses) for despising the Poor; he adds, in the 8th verse-"If ye fulfil," (says he) "the ROYAL LAW (????? ?????????) according to the Scripture, THOU SHALT "LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THY-"SELF," (which is the very Maxim in question) "ye do well: But if ye have "RESPECT TO PERSONS," (says he, thereby plainly pointing out this PARTIALITY as a direct breach of the said ROYAL LAW) "ye commit Sin, and are "convinced of the Law as Transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole Law," (continues the Apostle) and yet offend in "one (point) he is guilty of all. For he
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"that said do not commit Adultery; said "also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit "no Adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art "become a Transgressor of the Law. So "speak ye, and so do ye, as they that shall "be JUDGED by the LAW OF LIBERTY," (manifestly referring us to the indispensible Principle of doing as we would be done by, or to that which is exactly parallel-the loving our Neighbours as ourselves) "FOR HE SHALL HAVE JUDGMENT "WITHOUT MERCY" (said the Apostle) "THAT HATH SHEWED NO MERCY; "and Mercy rejoiceth against Judgement." (James ii. 1. to 13.)
This absolute necessity that we are laid under to shew Mercy, that we may obtain Mercy, is apparently founded on the very same Principle, which our Lord declared to be the Law and the Pro-phets;' that is, the sum and essence of the whole Scriptures, as I have before
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remarked-"ALL THINGS WHATSO-"EVER YE WOULD THATMEN SHOULD "DO TO YOU, DO YE EVEN SO TO "THEM: FOR THIS IS THE LAW AND "THE PROPHETS;" (Mat. vii. 12) and I have already shewn (in p. 3.) that this comprehensive Maxim is exactly the same in effect (though expressed in different words) as the second great Commandment of our Lord, "THOU "SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS "THYSELF;" in which (as the Apostle Paul has expressly declared) "All the "Law is fulfilled," viz. "All the Law (says he) "is fulfilled in ONE WORD (even) "in this, THOU SHALT LOVE THY "NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF." (Gal. v. 14.)
This one Word (as the Maxim is esteemed by the Apostle Paul) is therefore undoubtedly that glorious "LAW "OF LIBERTY" by which we shall all
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be judged, as the Apostle James hath fairly warned us-"So speak ye, and so "do" (says he) "as they that SHALL "BE JUDGED BY THE LAW OF LI-"BERTY." And therefore, if what has already been said be duly considered, the propriety of citing this glorious and comprehensive LAW OF LIBERTY, in vindication of the NATURAL LIBERTY OF MANKIND against the Tyranny of Slaveholders, cannot be doubted or called in question; for though this SUPREME LAW virtually prohibits every other kind of Oppression, yet its very title leads us to a more particular and express application of it AGAINST THE TOLERATION OF SLAVERY AMONG CHRISTIANS: because it seems to be thus eminently distinguished by the appointment of God himself in his Holy Word, as the peculiar Antidote against that baneful Evil (Slavery) which is most opposite and repugnant to its glorious title-
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"THE LAW OF LIBERTY." This "LAW OF LIBERTY," this SUPREAM, this "ROYAL LAW," must therefore be our guide in the interpretation and examination of all Laws which relate to the Rights of Persons, because it excludes Partiality, or Respect of Persons, and consequently removes all ground for the pretence of any absolute Right of Dominion inherent in the Masters over their Slaves: for as all Ranks of Men are EQUAL in the Sight of God (the Christian Slave, or Servant, being the Freeman of the Lord, and the Christain Master the Servant of Christ, 1 Cor. vii. 22.) there is no doubt but that the same Christian Qualities are necessary to be maintained by the Christain MASTER, that are required of the Christian SERVANT; as Humility, Forgiveness of Trespasses or Debts, and (though not Submission, yet certainly) Brotherly Love towards Inferiors, with unfeigned Charity and univer-
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sal Benevolence, founded on the glorious Maxim, or Royal Law, "THOU SHALT "LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THY-"SELF." All which are as indispensably necessary to form the disposition of a true Christian Master, as they are absolutely incompatible with the oppressive and tyrannical Claims of our American Slaveholders! "Quod tibi fieri non vis, "alteri ne feceris. What thou wouldest "not have done to thee, do not thou to "another,"-was the favourite Maxim of the Emperor Alexander Severus, according to the Report of Lampridius quoted by the Learned Jos. Mede, Book 3. p. 550. This Principle was probably deduced from "THE ROYAL LAW," "or LAW OF LIBERTY;" for Lampridius relates, that the Emperor heard it either from some Jews or Christians: ("Quod à quibusdam sive Judœis sive "Christianis audierat, et tenebat," &c.)
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and it cannot be denied, that the doctrine of it is necessarily included in that great and indispensable Commandment. The doctrine was expressed even by Christ himself nearly to the same effect, which I have already quoted:-"All things "whatsoever ye would that Men should do "to you, do ye even so to them: FOR THIS "IS THE LAW and THE PROPHETS." (Mat. vii. 12.) So that Slavery is absolutely inconsistent with Christianity, because we cannot say of any Slaveholder, that he doth not to another, what he would not have done to himself! For he is continually exacting involuntary Labour from others without Wages, which he would think monstrously unjust, were he himself the Sufferer! Nay, many of them are so besotted with Avarice, that they are not content with reaping the whole Fruit of other Men's Labour upon Earth WITHOUT
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WAGES (3); but would deprive their poor Labourers even of their eternal Comfort, if they could exact a little more Work from them, by reducing them nearer to the State of Brutes!-What I advance cannot be denied; for it is notorious, that many Masters oppose the instruction of their Slaves in Christian Knowledge; and but very few promote it as they ought; so that the Iniquity of the ignorant Slave must rest with double Weight on the guilty head of the owner, to fill up the measure of his sins!
Suppose a reverse of fortune-that an English or Scotch Slaveholder, or Slavedealer, is shipwrecked on the Barbary Coast, and is retained, as a Slave, by the Moors, who seize him; or is sold, as such, to another Person, accord-
(3) "Woe unto him that buildeth his House by Unright-"eousness, and his Chambers by Wrong; that USETH HIS "NEIGHBOUR'S SERVICE WITHOUT WAGES, AND "GIVETH HIM NOT FOR HIS WORK." Jer. xxii. 13.
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ing to the detestable customs of that Savage people!-Would he esteem himself the lawful Property of his tawney Master, because the wretched police of those Barbarians, in tolerating Slavery, is similar to his own former practices as an American Slaveholder, or African Trader? Would he not think it cruel treatment to be esteemed a mere Chattel; and, as such, to be ranked with the horses and oxen of his African Master? Like them, to be compelled by stripes to perform the most servile and abject Labour? Like them, to receive no Wages, or other Reward for his Service, except a little coarse Provender, merely to keep him in working Order for his Master's Benefit? Would he not think himself grievously injured by being forcibly detained and prevented from working for himself? And would he not think himself absolutely robbed of the Fruits of his own Labour? He would certainly have
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ample reason to lament the Mahometan's Ignorance of the heavenly Precept, "THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF; for he would then be taught, by his own Sufferings, to comprehend the full Force, Extent, and meaning of that benevolent Command, which, in his prosperity, he was never willing to understand, though the doctrine is so plain and obvious, that there can be no excuse for misunderstanding it; for unless the Slaveholder can make it appear, that his SLAVE is not his NEIGHBOUR, he must necessarily acknowledge this "LAW OF LIBERTY" to be the true Measure of his conduct and behaviour towards his SLAVE, as well as towards all other MEN!
Let not Slaveholders or African Traders conceive, that they are at liberty to receive or reject this glorious Precept, according as it may suit their interest
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or convenience! But rather let them carefully examine (for they are particularly interested in the determination of the question) whether obedience to the doctrine of the great "LAW OF LIBERTY," is not absolutely indispensable? And whether the violation of it is not dangerous to salvation?
If they think there is any room to flatter themselves, that they do not offend God by tolerating Slavery among them, let them but examine their Actions by this "ROYAL LAW," and they will clearly perceive both their Guilt and Danger, unless they have Consciences seared with a hot Iron!"
"If ye have respect unto Persons" (says the Apostle James, when he enforces the Observation of the ROYAL LAW) "ye "commit Sin, and are convinced of THE "LAW AS TRANSGRESSORS," &c. ii. 9.
[ 38 ]
Now this Offence of "having Respect "unto Persons," is a mark which strongly characterizes Slaveholders as Violaters of "THE ROYAL LAW."
They are courteous, friendly, and hospitable enough, in general, to Persons of their own Rank, as, indeed, they ought to be; but, at the same time, they look down upon their Slaves (who are equally their Brethren) as if they were not Human Beings, and rank them as mere Chattels with their Horses and Dogs; so that there needs no Argument to prove them guilty of "having Respect "unto Persons" in a most notorious degree, whereby they surely "commit Sin," and are "convinced of the Law as Trans-"gressors." What therefore have such Men to expect, when they shall be judged by "THE LAW OF LIBERTY!" especially as the Apostle adds, "they
[ 39 ]
"shall have Judgment without Mercy, "that have shewed no Mercy!" &c.
And even our Lord himself has declared the very same doctrine, though in different Words-"With the same "MEASURE that ye METE" (says he) "shall it be MEASURED unto you again." [?? ??? ???? ????? ? ??????? ???????????????? ????]. Luke vi. 38. Mat. vii. 2. Mark iv. 24.
What MEASURE OF Bnenvolence, therefore, have these Men to expect, who endeavour to enrich THEMSELVES by enslaving and oppressing their BRETHREN? For Men, who, "without Mercy," or Fellow-feeling have violated "THE "ROYAL LAW OF LIBERTY," can neither be said to love God, nor their Neighbour, as directed in the two great Commandments, and consequently are Violaters of "the whole Law;" by which they absolutely deprive themselves of
[ 40 ]
the Benefit of Christ's Redemption! This seems to be the necessary meaning of that dreadful Doom before-mentioned; "He shall have JUDGMENT "without MERCY, that hath shewed NO "MERCY."
But let no Man conceive, that I presume to charge Individuals, or any Person in particular, with the want of this MERCY, so necessary to Salvation, even though they are apparently guilty of that oppressive treatment of their Neighbour, which I now oppose; for this would seem like setting bounds to the Mercy of God, whereby I should be liable to involve myself, as an uncharitable Judge, in the same condemnation. And there are, certainly, a variety of circumstances, beyond the reach of human knowledge, that may extenuate the guilt of particular Persons, of which the great Searcher of Hearts alone can judge!
[ 41 ]
It is not, therefore, the Persons, but the uncharitable Practices of Slaveholders and Slavedealers, that I now venture to condemn; and these I can with confidence affirm to be really damnable, or dangerous to Salvation, as being the most notorious violations of that Christian Charity, or LOVE OF OUR NEIGHBOUR, which God indispensably requires of us, and without which, the highest Gifts are vain, and even Faith itself! For tho' I have "ALL FAITH" (said the Apostle Paul) "so that I could remove Mountains, and have "no CHARITY, I am nothing." 1 Cor. xiii. 2. The nature of this indispensable CHARITY is more particularly described by the same Apostle under the appellation of LOVE (? ?????). "LOVE," (says he) "worketh no ILL to his Neighbour: there-"fore LOVE is the fulfilling of the Law." Rom. xiii. 10. But, as the being detained in an involuntary Slavery is one of the greatest ILLS, or EVILS, that can
[ 42 ]
happen to our Neighbour, it must necessarily be allowed, that he who causes, or continues such an unnatural Oppression of poor unfortunate Strangers, who never injured him, nor his, nor ever voluntarily contracted to serve him, even for the shortest term, much less for life; such a Man, I say, most certainly "worketh ILL to his Neighbour;" and, consequently, violates that saving LOVE, which is required for "the fulfilling of "the Law." For "he that LOVETH "another" (says the Apostle in a preceding verse of the same chapter) "hath "fulfilled the Law:" and after repeating the several Articles of the Decalogue, respecting our Duty towards our NEIGHBOUR, he adds, "and if there be any "other Commandment, it is briefly com-"prehended in this, THOU SHALT LOVE "THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF." Rom. xiii. 8-10. We may therefore fairly conclude, that this glorious MAX-
[ 43 ]
IM is the touchstone or proof of that saving LOVE, which is THE FULFILLING OF THE LAW, and without which "FAITH IS DEAD," as declared by the Apostle Paul; that it is also "THE ROYAL LAW," being thus eminently distinguished from all other Precepts of the Gospel, by the Apostle James; and if it is not also particularly signified (though I am fully convinced that it is) under the Title of "THE LAW OF "LIBERTY," by the same Apostle, in his 2d Chapter; yet it is surely one of the most essential and comprehensive Principles of that "LAW OF LIBERTY," by which we shall all be judged; because the Apostle at the same time declares, that "he shall have Judgment WITHOUT MERCY, who hath shewed NO MERCY;" (chap. ii. 13.) by which he manifestly refers to the Breach of that particular Precept, which ought to regulate the Conduct of all Mankind to-
[ 44 ]
wards each other; and therefore, lastly, we must acknowledge this same Precept to be also THE TRUE MEASURE or Test on which our eternal Doom will depend in that awful Day, when it "shall be "MEASURED unto us again," according to THE MEASURE of our Actions, as declared by the eternal Judge himself, (Mat. vii. 2. Mark iv. 24. Luke vi. 38.) whose Words cannot fail! And if even a mere Neglect or Omission in our Duty towards our Neighbour is so offensive to our blessed Lord, that he esteems it as a Denial and Affront to his own Person, (which I have already observed) how much more offensive to him must be the actual Commission of the grossest Injuries, such as the Exaction of an involuntary Service from our poor Brethren "WITH-"OUT WAGES," and the various Cruelties usually practiced to enforce the same, which are the necessary and unavoidable Attendants on Slavery-What
[ 45 ]
a dreadful MEASURE OF RETRIBUTION, then, may obstinate and unrepenting Slaveholders and Slavedealers justly expect from the righteous Judge! Surely there is but too much Cause to apprehend, that Christ will one Day PROFESS UNTO THEM-"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto "one of the least of these my Brethren, "ye have DONE IT UNTO ME!" (Mat. xxv. 40.)
This Sentence, indeed, is applied in the Text to those who shall have DONE GOOD to their Brethren; yet by necessary Consequence it is equally applicable (as in the 45th verse) to those who have neglected, or shewn them no Brotherly LOVE and CHARITY!-"Inasmuch (said our Lord) "as ye did it not to one of "the least of these, ye did it not to me. "And these (by which our Lord plainly referred to all that should neglect or violate that indispensible Brotherly Love
[ 46 ]
and Charity which he enjoined) "shall "go away INTO EVERLASTING PU-"NISHMENT: but the Righteous into "Life eternal!"
But alas!- to worldly minded Men the Judgments of another World seem too far distant to awaken their Attention, though they are liable to be called away, in the very next Hour, to a State of Existence, wherein the most pungent Remorse will avail them nothing! From such therefore, and from those unrepenting Individuals, that will still persist in violating the LAW OF LIBERTY by Slave-dealing and Slave-holding, it is time to turn away! I have already bestowed too much labour upon them, I mean, with respect to themselves! But this Warning was not intended for them alone;-the whole Community-every Individual (without excepting even those who never had the least Concern in pro-
[ 47 ]
moting Slavery) is personally interested in the Consideration of this Subject! For if a Breach of God's Command, even in the hidden Crime of a single Individual, as in the Case of Achan, could involve a whole Nation in Trouble (4), and deprive them of God's Blessing,
(4) "-For Achan the Son of Carmi,"-took of THE "ACCURSED THING," (i.e. of that which was devoted to Destruction by God's express Command): "And the "Anger of the Lord was kindled against the Children of "Israel." Joshua vii. 1.-Thus the whole NATION was involved in the Consequences of Achan's Guilt! Nay, Jehovah himself expressly imputed the Action of that one Individual to the NATION at large, until a solemn and public Exertion of NATIONAL Justice had expiated that presumptive Breach of his Command! For when Joshua and the Elders of Israel lay prostrate before God, lamenting the public Calamity and Disgrace, which a late Defeat of their Army had brought upon the NATION,-"the Lord (Jehovah) said unto Joshua, Get thee up; "wherefore liest thou thus upon thy Face? ISRAEL hath "sinned, and THEY HAVE also TRANSGRESSED my Cove-"nant which I commanded them: for THEY have even taken "of THE ACCURSED THING, and have stolen, (that is, THEY have stolen ????) "and THEY have dissembled "also, and THEY have put (it) even among their own "Stuff." (Yet this general Crime, for so it was imputed,
[ 48 ]
how much more hateful in the Sight of God must be a public Infringement of his ROYAL LAW, THE PERFECT LAW OF LIBERTY, by national Authority!
The AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE, which includes the most contemptuous Violations of Brotherly Love and Charity that men can be guilty of, is openly encouraged and promoted by the British Parliament! And the most detestable and oppressive
was perpetrated by a single Individual, though the whole NATION was doomed to suffer for it, till the actual Aggressor should be brought to public Justice; and this should teach us, that the Welfare of NATIONS greatly depends on a strict Administration of public Justice and Righteousness, left the State should be accountable for the Crimes of Individuals.) "Therefore the Children of Israel" (said Jehovah himself) "could not stand before their Enemies, "(but) turned (their) Backs before their Enemies, because "they were ACCURSED." (Thus the CURSE was transferred to the People from THE ACCURSED THING, until public Justice could trace and transfer it to the devoted Head of the guilty Person!) "Neither will I (said Jehovah) "be with you any more, except ye destroy THE "ACCURSED from among you." See the whole Chapter.
[ 49 ]
Slavery, that ever disgraced even the unenlightened Heathens, is notoriously tolerated in the British Colonies by the public Acts of their respective Assemblies,-by Acts that have been ratified with the Assent and Concurrence of BRITISH KINGS!
The horrible Guilt therefore, which is incurred by Slave-dealing and Slaveholding, is no longer confined to the few hardened Individuals, that are immediately concerned in those baneful Practices, but alas! the WHOLE BRITISH EMPIRE is involved!
By the unhappy Concurrence of National Authority, the GUILT is rendered National; and National GUILT must inevitably draw down from GOD some tremendous National Punishment (which, I trust, is fully demonstrated in my Tract on THE LAW OF RETRIBUTION) if we do not speedily "take away the accursed
[ 50 ]
"Thing from among us,"-if we do not carefully reform and redress at least every public and notorious Violation of GOD'S "Royal Law," "the perfect Law of "Liberty!"
"GLORY to GOD in the Highest!
"And on Earth-PEACE,
"GOOD WILL towards Men!"
TEXTS OF SCRIPTURE
QUOTED OR ILLUSTRATED
IN THE FOREGOING TRACT.
Chapter. Verse. Page.
XIX. 28. 9
VI. 5. 8
VII. 48, n.
1. 47, n.
XXII. 13. 34, n.
VII. 2. 39. 44
12. 9. 29. 33
XXII. 37-40. 20, n.
XXV. 40. 45
45. 19. 45.
IV. 24. 39. 44.
VI. 38. 39. 44
XV. 13. 13, n.
[ 52 ]
Chapter. Verse. Page.
XIII. 8-10. 42
VII. 22. 31
XIII. 2. 41
XII. 15. 13, n.
IV. 15. 13, n.
V. 14. 10. 29
II. 26. 43
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. 27
12. 6. 24
13. 7. 43
III. 16. 12
IV. 7-12. 16, n.
8. 14, n.
13. 16. 14, n.
16. 16, n.
I N D E X.
AFRICAN Slave-trade, encouraged by parliament, page 48.
Alexander Severus (emp.) his favourite maxim, 32
Author, his design in this tract, 5. And for whole use it is intended, 7. The consideration of which every man is interested in, 7. 46. & seq. See Slaveholders.
Benevolence (universal) its best foundation, 16.
Brethren, the duty of laying down our lives for them explained, 12, & seq. The highest demonstration of perfect love, 13 note. Only required on very extraordinary occasions, 16.
Charity, an indispensable duty, 41.
Christian Master, his qualifications, 32.
Corinthians, their ingratitude to St. Paul, 13 note.
Galatians, their gratitude to St. Paul, 13 note.
GOD, the extent of our love to him, 8, Is love, 14 note. Our love to him is perfected by that to our neighbour, 20. All men equal in his sight, 31.
Gospel, its moral duties comprehended in two single principles, 7. Is properly the law of liberty, 24, & seq.
Gratitude to God, the foundation of our love to one another, 14 note. See Self-love.
[ 54 ]
Just Limitation of Slavery in the laws of God, 5.
Law. See Statutes.
Law of Liberty, recommended as a rule of action by St. James, 6. Defined, 24. See Gospel, Slavery. Obedience to it, indispensable, 37, & seq.
Law of Nature, and Principles of Action in Man, 12 note, 13 note.
Law of Passive Obedience, 5.
Liberty, notorious offenders may be temporarily deprived of, 23 note.
Life, laying it down for our brethren. See Brethren.
Love, of God and our neighbour, the two moral principles of the gospel, 8. See Neighbour.
Mede (Jos.) 32.
Morality, ignorance no excuse for having violated its laws, 22.
Neighbour, our love to him explained, 8. Enforced by our Saviour, 9. And by St. Paul, 10. Omission of it, declared by our Saviour an affront to himself, 18. A violation of it violates our love to God, 19. See GOD. The Royal Law, 26, 43. The necessity thereof proved, 27, 28. The Law of Liberty, 43. The test on which our eternal doom will depend, 44.
Patriotism (true) its noblest foundation, 16.
Paul (St.) his love to the Corinthians, 13 note.
Popery, how it differs from pure Christianity, 21.
[ 55 ]
Royal Law. See Neighbour.
Self-love, the rule of our conduct towards other men, 10, 11. But not the universal principle of action, 18. Must be suppressed when it comes in competition with the love of God, 15 note.
Slaveholders, the legality or illegality of their practices among Christians considered, 6, & seq. Their practices contrary to the laws of Christ, in doing that to others, which they would not have done to themselves, 33. A striking appeal to their consciences, 38, & seq. Their practices, not their persons, condemned by the author, 41. The injustice of those practices, ibid. The dreadful consequences to be expected from them, 44.
Slavery, the investigation of its legality or illegality among Christians, the design of this tract, 6, 7. Not defensible on Christian principles, 23. Expressly against the Law of Liberty, 30. Absolutely inconsistent with Christianity, 32.
Statutes, their multiplicity in England only affords matter for equivocation, doubt, and evasion, 21.
F I N I S.
Tracts by the same AUTHOR.
Printed for B. WHITE, and HORACE'S-HEAD,
I. A Short Treatise on the English Tongue. Being an Attempt to render the Reading and Pronunciation of the same more easy to Foreigners. 1767.
II. Remarks on several very important Prophecies, first Edition, in 1768, (second Edition, 1775.)
This Book contains, 1st, Remarks on the Prophecy of Isaiah vii. 13-16-That a Virgin should conceive and bear a Son. 2dly, Remarks on the Nature and Style of prophetical Writings. 3dly, Remarks on the Accomplishment of Isaiah's Prophecy, (vii. 8.) "Within threescore and five Years shall Ephraim be broken, that it "be not a People." 4thly, On the Departure of the Sceptre and Lawgiver from Judah. 5thly, A Confirmation of the above Remarks by farther Examples drawn from the Prophets, &c.
II. A Representation of the Injustice and dangerous Tendency of Tolerating Slavery; or of admitting the least Claim of Private Property in the Persons of Men IN ENGLAND. Being an Answer to an Opinion, given in the Year 1729, by the (then) Attorney General and Solicitor General, concerning the Case of Slaves in GREAT-BRITAIN. 1769.
This Tract contains many Examples of the monstrous Iniquity and Injustice of the Plantation Laws respecting Slaves; as also some Account of the gradual Abolition of the ancient English Slavery called VILLENAGE, which was at length happily effected by the Wisdom and Perseverance of the English Courts of Common Law.
IV. Remarks concerning the Encroachments on the River Thames near Durham-Yard. 1771.
[ 2 ]
V. An Appendix to the Representation of the Injustice and dangerous Tendency of tolerating Slavery. (See Number III.) 1772.
VI. Remarks on the Opinions of some of the most celebrated Writers on CROWN LAW, respecting the due Distinction between Manslaughter and Murder; shewing that the Indulgence allowed by the Courts to voluntary Manslaughter in Rencounters, DUELS, &c. is indiscriminate and without Foundation in Law; and is also one of the principal Causes of the Continuance and present Increase of the base and disgraceful Practice of DUELLING. 1773.
The peculiar Case of Gentlemen in the Army, respecting the Practice of DUELLING, is carefully examined in this Tract; as also the Depravity and Folly of modern Men of Honour falsely so called.
VII. In two Parts. I. A Declaration of the People's Natural Right to a Share in the Legislature; which is the fundamental Principle of the British Constitution of State. 2. A Declaration, or Defence, of the the same Doctrine, when applied particularly to THE PEOPLE OF IRELAND. 1774. (2d Edition, 1775.)
In these two Pieces many Examples and Proofs are produced concerning the parliamentary Rights of the People; viz. That the Assent of the People is absolutely necessary to render Laws valid: That a free and equal Representation of the Inhabitants of this Kingdom is necessary for the Salvation of the State, and the Security of Peace and of Property: That the Representatives of the People have no legal Right to assent in any "new Device without Conference with "their Countries:" That it is an ancient and just Right of the People to elect a new Parliament "every Year once, and more often "if Need be;" and that no Regulations whatsoever, wherein the Representatives are made Judges of their own Elections, can be effectual against national Corruption! Examples are likewise here given of several surreptitious STATUES that are void through the Want of due legal Assent; and of Others that are void by being
[ 3 ]
unjust and repugnant to constitutional Principles! The Danger of keeping standing Armies is also demonstrated, and the Wickedness and Impolicy of Acting by national Corruption! &c. &c.
The following Tracts by the same AUTHOR
Printed for B. WHITE, in FLEET-STREET, and
E. and C. DILLY, in the POULTRY.
VIII. The just Limitation of Slavery in the Laws of God, compared with the unbounded Claims of the African Traders and British American Slave-holders.
To this Piece is added a copious Appendix, containing, An Answer to the Rev. Mr. Thompson's Tract in Favour of the African Slave-Trade. Letters concerning the lineal Descent of the Negroes from the Sons of HAM. The Spanish Regulations for the gradual Enfranchisement of Slaves. A Proposal, on the same Principles, for the gradual Enfranchisement of Slaves in America. REPORTS of Determinations in the several COURTS OF LAW against Slavery, &c. 1776.
IX. The Law of PASSIVE OBEDIENCE; or Christian Submission to personal Injuries:
Wherein is shewn that the several Texts of Scripture, which command the entire submission of Servants or Slaves to their Masters, cannot authorize the latter to exact an involuntary Servitude, nor in the least Degree justify the Claims of modern Slave-holders; and also that the several Texts, which enjoin Submission to Rulers, Magistrates, &c. do not in any Respect authorize the dangerous Doctrine of an unlimited passive Obedience.
X. "THE LAW OF LIBERTY;" or (as it is called in Scripture by way of Eminence) "The Royal Law," by which all Mankind will certainly be judged!
[ 4 ]
XI. THE LAW OF RETRIBUTION; or a serious Warning to Great-Britain and her Colonies, founded on unquestionable Examples of GOD's temporal Vengeance against Tyrants, Slave-holders, and Oppressors. 1776.
The Examples are selected from Predictions, in the Old-Testament, of national Judgements, which (being compared with the actual Accomplishment) demonstrate "the sure Word of Prophecy," as well as the immediate Interposition of divine Providence, to recompence impenitent Nations according to their Works.
Tracts, by the same AUTHOR, now in the
Press for Publication.
XII. A Tract on the Law of Nature and Principles of Action in Man.
XIII. THE CASE OF SAUL; being an Appendage to the former Tract, wherein the compound Nature and various Principles of Action in MAN (with the Reality of supernatural spiritual Influence, both good and bad) are proved by unquestionable Examples from the History of that unfortunate Monarch, and also from many other Parts of Scripture.
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