The Bible And Slavery -- By: E. P. Barrows

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 019:75 (Jul 1862)
Article: The Bible And Slavery
Author: E. P. Barrows

The Bible And Slavery

Prof. E. P. Barrows

To charge all the sophistry with which the world abounds to the conscious design of deceiving men would be uncandid. The largest part of the false reasoning by which men practice imposition upon themselves and others, is probably more or less unconscious. They first adopt an opinion under the influence of prejudice or passion, and then set themselves at work to find arguments for its support. The opinion is not the result of the arguments, nor is it sustained by them; but the arguments were invented to adorn the opinion and give it a decent show of truth, and it is the opinion which sustains them. Some years ago, the people of a certain village in Ohio erected a neat house of worship. The front was adorned with a row of pilasters adhering to its body, which certainly added to its architectural beauty, and were designed to have the appearance of supporting it. But winter coming on before the pedestals of these pilasters could be placed under them, they were left till the ensuing summer hanging to the front of the house with nothing but empty air for their support, whereby their true office — to seem, not to be — was at once made manifest. In due time

the pedestals were nicely adjusted, as hollow as the pilasters which they seemed to support, and on which, in turn, the front of the building seemed to rest. There they were, an admirable representation of a vast amount of the arguments current in this world of vain show. They are not the grounds of the opinions which they seem to support, but they are appended to the front of them to give them an appearance of truth.

We are very far from denying that an opinion taken upon trust, without argument, may be true, and therefore capable of being afterwards supported by valid reasons. Children must receive their opinions at the outset mainly on the authority of their parents and teachers; and even in mature years a large part of our beliefs must continue to rest on the foundation of faith. This is a great law of God’s moral government. Like every other general law, it is subject to much abuse in our crooked and perverse world; yet its influence is, upon the whole, highly beneficent. But, as already intimated, we have now to do with sophistical arguments, invented to give a show of truth to untenable positions. To classify and describe the numerous shapes which false reasoning assumes, is no part of our present design. We simply remark that one of its most common forms — and a form, too, that has been abundantly employed in the controversy concerning American slavery — consists in an evasion, whether conscious or unconscious, of the true point at issue by the confusion of things that differ essentially ...

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