THE NEGRO NOT A BEAST
A BROTHER sends us with the following questions, a book now having an extensive sale in the South, and calculated to stir up strife with its teaching that the negro is not human, but a beast. Our answers review the statements of said book.
(1) Question. -- Are there any grounds for the belief of some that the negro is one of the lower animals, in the Scriptures called a "beast" and created, like the other beasts, prior to the creation of Adam, who was the first that was called a man?
Answer. -- Of course whoever advances such a theory must at least fancy that he has proofs to support it, and frequently the wish to find such proofs misleads the judgment and causes the individual to accept as proofs, matters which would not be proofs if regarded in an unprejudiced manner. In our opinion there are no such proofs, but strong testimony of the Scriptures to the contrary. Science has proven that somehow the Creator has fixed boundaries and limitations which hinder the different species from intermingling. Even where the species closely resemble each other in many respects, as for instance, the horse and donkey, the dog and the cat, a cross-breed with powers of propagation cannot be secured. This law, which it is well known obtains throughout the animal kingdom, should in all reason be applicable to mankind; and hence, if whites and negroes were of different species they could not, by commingling, produce offspring capable of propagation. Briefly stated, this is the scientific side of the question, which cannot be set aside by any amount of sophistry or theorizing. It will stand as a fact after the theorizing is dead. From the Scriptural standpoint the answer is equally specific. Note the Apostle's words, "God that made the world and all things therein... hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth." -- Acts 17:24-28.
MISCEGENATION NOT SCRIPTURALLY A CRIME
(2) Question. -- Those who take the view I mention, claim that Cain's sin consisted in marrying a negress, and that it was for this reason that God would not accept his sacrifice. It claims also that the crime of all nations, leading to their degeneracy and divine disfavor, has in every instance been the commingling of the white "man" and the black "beast"; and that the different colored races, yellow, red, brown, are the result of these admixtures, and that hence heathendom prevails amongst the various colored races, while Christianity prevails amongst the whites. What answer would you make to this proposition?
Answer. -- The proposition is wholly illogical. It is not true that divine favor has gone with the whites exclusively, and against the blacks and other colored races; civilizing the whites and barbarizing the others. If civilization and barbarity are to be the tests entirely, we have only to take in a wide scope of history to see the fallacy of the view presented. Eighteen centuries ago the white peoples of Europe, with their straight silky hair, were savages, idolaters, barbarians -- far more degraded than were the millions of India and the millions of China at the same time. This disproves this theory at a glance.
Furthermore, the Children of Israel, who for eighteen centuries before that had been the favored people of God, and respecting whom it was written, "You only have I known (recognized) of all the families of the earth," (Amos 3:2) are not a fair skinned and straight and silky haired people. Their hair is quite kinky, and their skin is quite swarthy, altho they also are a part of the Caucasian race. Furthermore, we notice in the case of that nation that whereas they were subjects of divine favor for eighteen hundred years, and then became objects of divine disfavor for a similar period, it was not because of their having intermarried with blacks, but for a very different reason -- because of their rejection of Messiah. This proves that alienation from God which constitutes the heathen "strangers, aliens and foreigners," was not because of intermarriage with the blacks.
If those who favor this theory should persist in saying that all who are strangers from God and from the commonwealth of Israel, were rejected and utterly cast off because of impurity of blood through negro admixture, let us reflect further that these Gentile nations include our own forefathers, the barbarians of Europe. And let us further reflect that however cast off they were, and from whatever reason they were cast off, their debt, their penalty, was paid by the great ransom sacrifice which our Lord Jesus gave -- not for the Jews only, but for the Gentiles also, by which we, who were once aliens and strangers and foreigners, have been brought nigh to God, and granted the privilege of becoming his sons.
But the entire argument is fallacious. Their conjecture respecting Cain's transgression is trumped up based upon a slight imperfection in the translation of our common version Bibles, which read, "If thou doest well shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire and thou shalt rule over him." (Genesis 4:7) This latter statement is still further twisted out of shape to prove the point by making it read, "Unto thee shall her desire be, and thou shalt rule over her," and making the "her" apply to the negress, whom Cain is supposed to have accepted as a wife. On the contrary, the Scriptural account shows that Cain had no wife at the time of this injunction. It was subsequent to this that Cain went and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden, and knew his wife, and she conceived. (Genesis 4:16,17) Cain's wife was undoubtedly one of his sisters, for such was the custom of early times, nor was it necessary to bar by law intermarriage between blood relations. The necessity for this at the present time lies in the fact that the race has greatly degenerated, and that the idiosyncrasies of one family need to be offset by different peculiarities of another--and sound advice is that all mating should be between those of dissimilar temperaments. In the present run-down mental and physical condition of the human family in-breeding tends to produce insanity and physical degeneracy, while interbreeding gives better results, by scattering and offsetting the weaknesses of each tribe or family.
There is nothing said respecting any sin on Cain's part up to the time he became jealous of his brother, and his murderer. He did entirely right to bring to the Lord the offering which he did bring of the fruits of the ground; nor was the Lord displeased with this. The fact that Abel's offering was accepted while Cain's was rejected, should have been understood by him as indicating the kind of sacrifice which would be best pleasing to the Lord, and straightway he should have procured and presented animal sacrifices: then, undoubtedly, his would have been as truly acceptable as Abel's. The Lord from the very first wished to teach his creatures that the only reconciliation for sin would be through the shedding of blood; thus he foreshadowed to them the great sacrifice for sin -- the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 5:18,19; 1 John 1:7) "Without shedding of blood there is no remission." -- Hebrews 9:22.
Cain should, therefore, have congratulated his brother Abel, and have been thankful for this clear manifestation of what kind of a sacrifice would be pleasing to his Creator; but instead we are told that he was wroth, angry. It was for this anger that the Lord reproved him as the context clearly shows. The Lord said to Cain in substance: Why are you angry? Do you wish to bring me a sacrifice? Are you angry because I have shown you the kind of sacrifice which I wished to receive? Are you jealous because this manifestation of my wishes came to you through your brother? Evidently you are in a wrong condition. If you would do the acceptable thing, would you not be accepted as well as Abel, and your sacrifice as well as his? And if now that you know what would please me you do not do so, would it not prove that sin lies at the door, that your heart is not right? Then follows the twisted statement which we here give from Leeser's translation -- "If thou doest not well (now that you know what my will is) sin lieth at the door, and unto thee is its desire, but thou canst rule over it;" (Genesis 4:7) -- you can get the victory over this wrong attitude of mind if you but so desire. But instead of getting the victory over his jealousy, Cain permitted it to grow; and getting into an altercation with his brother the envious, murderous feelings of his heart gave vent to the blow which made him the first murderer.
The Scriptural evidences are wholly against the theory mentioned in the question. Take, for instance, the fact that Moses married a negress, and had children by her. According to the theory we are criticising this would have been an unpardonable sin in God's sight, a carnal union between a man and a beast. According to this theory Moses would have been rejected utterly from divine favor. But what do we find? Quite to the contrary. It was after this marriage that God chose Moses to be his representative and the leader of his people out of Egyptian bondage. Moreover, it was when Moses' brother Aaron and his sister Miriam, especially the latter, upbraided him for his marriage to a negress, that the Lord defended him in the matter, and smote Miriam with the plague of leprosy as a punishment for her improper conduct and language respecting this subject. (See the account, Numbers 12) Zipporah was an Ethiopian, described in the Hebrew text as a Cushite. Ebed melech, also an Ethiopian, was one of King Zedekiah's household, and be it noted that he was both thoughtful and zealous for the Lord's prophet, Jeremiah, and was the commander of the thirty men who delivered him from prison (Jeremiah 38:7-12) Hence the argument of those who claim that the negro is devoid of organizing intelligence or ability, except as he may have an admixture of white blood, is shown to be fallacious.
We have already quoted from the Apostle Paul that all nations are mentioned as of one blood; and this again borne out by his statement that those who accept Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, barbarian or Scythian, bond or free, are "all one in Christ Jesus." -- Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11.
The Ethiopian eunuch to whom Philip was sent with the messages of salvation was unquestionably a black man -- "Can the Ethiopian change his skin?" (Jeremiah 13:23; Acts 8:27) We find no suggestion on Philip's part that this Ethiopian was not a man, but a beast; but quite to the contrary, he was ready to preach the Gospel to him and to accept him as a brother in Christ upon his confession of faith.
The Queen of Sheba who visited Solomon in the height of his glory is presumed to have been a negress: the present Emperor of Abyssinia claims to be a descendant of Solomon by this Queen -- he is a black man, and an able warrior and general, as the Italian army, attempting to invade his country a few years ago, learned to its cost--its serious defeat. Solomon is presumed, by some, to have referred to the Queen of Sheba in his Songs or Canticles 1:5,6.
HOW SHALL WE ACCOUNT FOR RACIAL DIFFERENCES?
(3) Question. -- If the foregoing is not the solution of the racial distinctions amongst men, what would you suggest as a reasonable explanation?
Answer. -- From the Scriptural standpoint we must and do recognize all of the human family as one race, of which father Adam was the original head; a later head being Noah. Accepting as we do the Bible narrative of the flood (and it is confirmed by similar, though less explicit, narratives amongst all ancient peoples) we need not go back of Noah and his family in seeking a cause for the differences. Taking Mt. Ararat as the central joint from which post-diluvian humanity spread itself over the earth, we may reasonably suppose that his three sons and their posterity went in different directions, the one northward, the other southward, and the third eastward. There is a general concensus of opinion that it was Ham who went southward, and whose posterity afterward peopled Africa; that it was Shem who remained near the Mediterranean and became the millions of Armenia, Persia, Assyria, Egypt and India; and that Japheth went northward and eastward, and that his posterity is represented in the Turks, Russians, Chinese, etc.
In attempting to account for the wide differences between whites and blacks, and the lesser differences between these and the yellow, brown, and red, we are treading upon uncertain ground, -- as all ground must be in which our imperfect knowledge and imperfect reasoning powers have not inspired direction from the Lord's Word. Hence it should be understood at the outstart that all that we or others can do is to guess on this subject -- respecting the differences in shape of head, color of skin, shape of eyes, peculiarities of hair, the nose, lips, etc. Undoubtedly, the climate and the soil have much to do with these differences, just as they have much to do with changes in vegetation. For instance, the apple which reaches so great a degree of perfection in a cold climate, if transferred, even gradually, to a warm one will do poorly, and if it does not die out entirely will at least undergo a transformation, in harmony with the change of soil and climate. The same is noticeable in the quince, the plum and the grape, the orange, etc. Is there more difference between the different races of human species than between the different kinds of grapes -- some sweet, some sour; some larger, some smaller; some round, some oblong, some pear-shaped; some white, some green, some reddish, some purple; some with solid meat, some half full of juice, some with seeds and some without? Yet it is not questioned that all grapes are of one family.
Again, consider the dog species. Some are sleek and some are rough; some are very woolly and some are without hair; some white, some brown, some tan; some large, some small, etc. Does any one dispute that all dogs are of one species? Appropriately we find that locality and climate and the kind of food subsisted upon had much to do with these differences. True, we see dogs in various countries of different breeds, now, yet we recognize each breed as having had originally a distinctive home: as for instance, the St. Bernard of the Alps, the Spitz of the Artic regions, the Scotch terrier, the Collie and the Newfoundland -- each had its own place, and was developed under peculiar conditions, which for the time kept it separate from others. We are to remember that for long centuries neither dogs nor their masters roamed the world over as at present, but were content with their own home country, which, with its peculiar conditions, and customs, gradually fixed certain characteristics of thought, manner, language and outer appearance. As a consequence, an experienced eye will know a Scotchman fresh from his native heath as quickly as he would recognize his dog. And the same with other peoples.
When we find that Europe, which was settled much more recently by its present inhabitants, has in so short a time divided itself into so many different nations, and when we remember that Europeans have stirred and commingled with each other far more than the peoples of other parts of the earth, it helps us to see how gradually, through many centuries, other peoples have undergone still greater changes.
In considering this matter we are not to forget the strong pre-natal influence of the mother's mind upon her offspring, -- co-operating with the influences of climate and soil. To illustrate: Suppose a missionary and his wife removed to China; not only would the influence of the climate and soil be manifested upon themselves, but the same would be still more manifested in their children. Whoever will give careful attention to this matter will notice that each succeeding child born in that foreign country will have increasingly more resemblance to the Chinese -- the hair, the skin, the shape of the eyes, and in general all features will bear closer resemblance with each succeeding child. We can readily suppose that if so much change occurs in a few years, ten or twenty centuries under similar conditions would turn any white people into regular Chinese, even supposing there were no intermarrying. The mother, while carrying her unborn child, has continually before her the Chinese type of countenance -- yes, hair, color, etc., and the continual impress of these upon her mind could not fail, according to the law of our being, to influence her offspring in the manner noted.
Indeed a traveler, a scientist, has lately reported to the civilized world that he found in China a district where there were ruins of a very ancient Hebrew temple, and tablets in Hebrew. The people of the district informed him that they had a tradition that their fathers once spoke and understood the language of the tablets (Hebrew), had emigrated thither many centuries before, adopting the Chinese customs and language and, gradually, their appearance also.
The effect would be similar in India. Undoubtedly the stronger contrast between the white and the black would require a longer time to be brought about; but we should expect that neither of these extremes fairly represented the original, if we may judge of Adam, Noah and Abraham by the only nation whose ancestors can be traced unblemished back to these heads of the race, -- the Jews. We may suppose that they were neither as white as some of us, nor as black as the negro, but of a swarthy, tawny color. If this be true, the extreme whiteness of some peoples is not to be considered the original standard, but a deflection on the one side, as the negro and others are deflections on the other side. We are not to forget, either, that Africa is inhabited by various tribes or nations of negroes -- some more and some less degraded than the average. Those brought to America as slaves were of various tribes; -- from among whom we doubt not the Lord is making choice of some for the prospective "Royal Priesthood."
While it is true that the white race exhibits some qualities of superiority over any other, we are to remember that there are wide differences in the same Caucasian (Semitic and Aryan) family; and also we should remember that some of the qualities which have given this branch of the human family its preeminence in the world are not such as can be pointed to as in all respects admirable. Indeed we can not but wonder whether if the Gospel had been sent into Asia instead of into Europe it might not have found amongst the people of India a soil much more naturally adapted to the development of the peaceable fruits of righteousness. However, that the Gospel was divinely directed into Europe is most manifest (Acts 16:6,9), and sooner or later we shall see the full meaning of this divine providence. Perhaps the Lord intends to show that as typical Israel was a stiff-necked generation, so also spiritual Israel will be taken from amongst similar classes; and all the more show forth the power of the truth, by taking the elect Church chiefly from amongst the most quarrelsome, aggressive, selfish and dominating of humanity, and transforming these through the power of the truth into exemplifications of patience, humility, love and peace. The secret of the greater intelligence and aptitude of the Caucasian undoubtedly in great measure is to be attributed to the commingling of blood amongst its various branches; and this was evidently forced in large measure by circumstances under divine control. It remains to be proven that the similar commingling of the various tribes of Chinese for several centuries would not equally brighten their intellects; and the same with the peoples of India and Africa.
NOAH'S CHARACTER AND HIS "CURSE" UPON HAM
(4) Question. -- Those who hold that the negro is a beast deny that he is the offspring of Noah's sons, and claim that the curse of Noah was not upon Ham, but upon one of Ham's sons, Canaan. They belittle Noah's curse, by saying that it was the senseless babbling of a drunken sot. What say you on this point?
Answer. -- Those who use such language evidently are not familiar with the subject sufficiently to discuss it at all. The word "curse" is used by Noah after the same manner that God is said to have cursed the earth, and cursed mankind; from which curse man was redeemed by our Lord. The word "curse" here is used in the sense of penalty, retribution, and not in the sense of an imprecation or a profane denunciation. God declared man to be under the sentence of his divine law, -- a death-sentence "curse" or penalty. Noah declared, prophetically, that Ham's characteristics which had led him to unseemly conduct disrespectful to his father, would be found cropping out later, inherited by his son, -- and prophetically he foretold that this degeneracy would mark the posterity of Canaan, degrading him, making him servile. We are not able to determine to a certainty that the sons of Ham and Canaan are the negroes; but we consider that general view as probable as any other.
Respecting Noah: It is a great mistake to charge him with being a drunken sot, and thus slanderously to set forth in a disreputable light one whom the Lord esteemed. (See Ezekiel 14:14,20) The fact is that the conditions after the flood were so different from those which preceded it that Noah was probably ignorant of the fact that the changed atmospheric conditions produced a ferment in the grape juice, giving to the liquor alcoholic and intoxicating qualities. We have not the space here to consider the wonderful change in climate, etc., which occurred at the time of the flood; but everything connected with the narrative supports our conclusion that Noah drank of the fruit of his vineyard in ignorance of its stupefying qualities. See our issue of Nov. 15, 1899.
OTHER INCONSISTENCIES IN THE ARGUMENTS REVIEWED
(5) Question. -- When Jude says, "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core" (Jude 1:11), has it any bearing on this negro question?
Answer. -- It has no bearing upon this question in the interest of the theory which we are opposing; but it has decided force in opposition to it. The Apostle Jude (Thaddeus -- Matthew 10:3) mentions Cain, Balaam, and Core. The sin of Cain was hatred of his brother -- murder; the error of Balaam was love of reward, so that he was willing to do evil to obtain it; the gainsaying of Core was his rebellion against divinely instituted arrangements. The Lord's people are to note all of these wrong courses and to avoid them all.
We trust that we have answered the questions satisfactorily, and have thoroughly disproven the theory under examination. We will, however, notice a few other points made in the pamphlet: for instance, the negro is blamed with being peaceable and submissive, and his white brother is credited with being of a higher order, because he is unsubmissive and warlike. Is it not a fact that in these particulars, if true, the colored man resembles Abel, and the white man Cain? -- that the colored man resembles Jesus, and the white man Nero? -- that the colored man resembles Moses, and the white man Pharaoh? If the negro is more peaceable by nature, he is that much by nature nearer to the standard which the Christian, as a new creature, is to copy. But we dispute the proposition entirely.
It is argued further that in Jonah 3:8, the word "beast" refers to the negro because it says that both "man and beast" were commanded to wear sackcloth as the sign of humiliation before God, and that it would be inappropriate for cattle and sheep. But this argument loses any little force it at first seemed to have, when we read in the preceding verse that "herds and flocks" were to participate in this fast before God.
The argument drawn from Exodus 19:13, that the beasts referred to had hands is easily answered by showing that the Hebrews used the word hand for beasts as well as for man. The Hebrew word rendered hand in the citation is yad; and the same word is used in 1 Samuel 17:37, where it is rendered "paw"--"The paw of the lion and the paw of the bear."
The writer makes a point of the use of the word "beast" in contradiction to the word "cattle." But if we refer to Young's Concordance under the head of "beast" we find the word behemah, which, while the general word for cattle, is rendered beast more frequently than cattle. The distinctive word for beast, not rendered cattle, is (Hebrew) chai, and its signification is "living creature." Chai is used in Psalm 104:20, and the description of verses 21,22, shows that it refers, not to man-eating negroes, but to lions, and such wild beasts. The lack of candor on the part of the author of the pamphlet criticized, is shown by the fact that in one place he accuses the negro of being too peaceable, while in another place, to suit his theory, he makes of him the man-eating wild beast of the Old Testament.