Welcome to the anti-slavery book, A Brief Examination of the Practice of the Times (1729), by Ralph Sandiford. To go to the "Table of Contents" immediately, click here.
Prior to the 1861-1865 War, there were a number of Christian abolitionists who opposed slavery. Nowadays, their Biblical-based reasons are generally unknown.
This series of websites educates by making the text of their religious writings accessible. Whether or not you agree with their position, it is at least a good idea to know what it was!
This site in the series reprints the 1729 anti-slavery book by Ralph Sandiford (1693-1733).
The book is written in the style of a constituent letter to a representative in the colonial legislature. Sandiford starts by reminding him of their shared experiences in voyaging to America, then getting into the slavery issue.
Snadiford cites various racist claims of that era, then provides rebuttals.
Note the publisher's name, Benjamin Franklin. He had himself been a runaway! He took an pro-fugitive and anti-slavery position for the rest of his life, including printing anti-slavery writings, and founding an anti-slavery society.
The text is the original. However, spelling is modernized to avoid reader distraction; missing page numbers inserted; and chapters, headings, Biblical references, notes, etc. added as reader aids. The modern practice of the "table of contents" at the beginning, was not then used. Here, one is provided; to go there now, click here.

A Brief Examination of
the Practice of the Times

by Ralph Sandiford
(Philadelphia: Franklin
and Meredith, 1729).

Practice of the Times

by the foregoing and the present DISPENSATION: Whereby is manifested, how the devil works in the mystery, which none can understand and get the victory over but those that are armed with the light, that discovers the temptation and the author thereof, and gives victory over him and his instruments, who are now gone forth, as in the beginning, from the true friends of Jesus, having the form of godliness in words, but in deeds deny the power thereof; from such we are commanded to turn away [2 Tim. 3:5].

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them that suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body, Heb. xiii. 3.

If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

He that leadeth into captivity, shall go into captivity, Rev. xiii.10.

To my Esteemed Friend
Matthew Hughes, Esq.
One of the Representatives for the
County of BUCKS.

My Friend,

NOT having the opportunity of thy company, I take this occasion to confer on the various circumstances of my life since I left you, in which voyage, as the beginning of our sorrows we were robbed by the Pirates, yet through penury we made our voyage to Barbadoes, where a prospect of profit offered for this place, but as all humane affairs are uncertain, in the latitude of 27 deg., 34 min. and 5 deg. 56 bl.

Westing from that island, our sloop, after many violent storms,


sprung a leak, and in 18 hours sunk before our eyes; where we were left to drive before Wind and Sea, in our open Boat; yet through the concurring Mercies of our God, (after eight days tossing on the Ocean, on which we sailed 170 Leagues) we landed on one of the Bahama Islands, called Catisland where with souls filled with joy we sang to our Deliverer, rejoicing both in his judgments and mercies, who preserved us on the deep, and provided for us in the desert, where we lay marooned some months, until Providence brought us to South Carolina where I waged with one (deemed the richest in the Province) in the same service I was in with you, and he would have bestowed his bounty on me, but there was that righteous seed in me, which begs not its bread, neither would it suffer me to receive more than my hire, his riches being the product of negro and Indian slaves, which would have made me a debtor and an op-


pressor in the Creation; which was so contrary to me, that the sight and sense I had of it burdened my life, which hastened me to these parts, where the Lord blessed me with substance again, which was quickly consumed by the fire, and I providentially escaped with my life at your Fair at Bristol. And tho the christian life consists not in outwards, yet in commemorating his providences to me in the Day of my Humiliation, both inwardly and outwardly, engages me thankfully to acknowledge his goodness and mercies, in that he has again restored me to fulness and plenty. And has not the Lord, by his extraordinary providence opened this America before the European, and given us peace and plenty among the natives? and shall we go to Africa for bread, and lay the burden which appertains to our bodily support on their shoulders? Is this washing one another's feet, or living by the Gospel, or maintaining


liberty and property? which we are called into that we may answer the just principle in all men, which now is crucified by this trade in such who can, without remorse, cruise on their coast, and up their rivers to steal all they can find, which has introduced so much wickedness amongst us, as the fruit of a corrupt tree, which was first planted in K Charles's time, when the African Company was commissionated for that trade, which no doubt was chargeable in shipping, and forces to build forts; yet covetousness the motive to it, and root of all evil, soon paid it self without mercy, that to dispatch their vessels, they would present a Negro King with a sword or such a matter that he may war with his neighbours.

And which ever party conquers the fort is their market; which proves a temptation to these poor creatures, privately to murder the strongest part of their neighbouring families, that they may fell the


rest, tho' for the least bawbles and sometimes the betrayers and murderers they take also, and secure then with the rest in the vessel, left for prized with their captivity, they should drown themselves.

O unrighteous gain! which is the price of blood, the fountain of which is opened, All that touch therewith are unclean! Let us read the law of separation, and run in the spirit lest we defile our selves and our issue, and so be cut off from the Commonwealth of Israel.

And as to taking away the life for theft, it not having its desired effect tho' numbers suffer on the gallows, caused the legislators in England to debate whether transporting them to Turkey, for the redemption on of honest captives, would not be a more effectual remedy; in which men in your station are the best judges: Yet as a living Member in the Body which you represent, with submission is offered to thee and thy brethren the ensuing Treatise, intend-


ed for the good of both church and state, in that love that strikes not at the least member, but at that which would destroy and bring into captivity the whole body, against which is the warfare of

thy friend,
Ralph Sandiford.

Philadelphia, the 1st of the
     11th month, 1728-9.


My Friendly Reader,

UNDER the consideration of the shortness of the life of Man, and the end for which he was created, [I] engaged my mind to the Lord that he would make known his truth unto me, beyond custom or tradition in which most content themselves.

And though in the time of ignorance the Lord winks [Acts 17:30], and the sincere in heart in all societies and gatberings are owned by him, yet if he farther manifests himself, who shall withstand him? Tho' in believing I made not haste, but desired to try all things, and hold fast by that universal love I was then a witness of, in which I travelled in my spirit for the freedom and


redemption of the whole body, as being a living member thereof, tho' I am sensible it would much more have been recommended to thy perusal, had it been done by an abler hand, as many there are under the same suffering, to the overthrow of the faith of some. [Ed. Note: See similar analyses by Benjamin Lay (1737) and Rev. Wm. Patton (1846).]

Yet rejoice not thou over such, but be warned by them, lest thou also fall. Yet to the glory of the grace and power of the Lord, who causes good to redound from evil to those that love him [Rom. 8:28] (which does not excuse the evil-doer) that many have known deliverance from this atheistical practice [slavery], and the offence given by it, being thereby grown into the sanctuary, where they have seen the ground and nature thereof, and the fruit it brings forth, the end of which is for the fire.

Therefore with a single eye [Ed. Note: Matt. 6:22; Luke 11:34 allusions] to the Lord, and as it concerns thy own eternal eternal welfare, let it have its due weight with thee before thy day is determined, and receive it as a token of love, and in that simplicity in which it is committed unto thee, in as few words as my poor


capacity and the ease of my spirit will admit of, without the least prejudice to any mortal, much less to the cause of the Gospel, or the true ministers thereof, who are for the gathering of all nations into the same love; and they that despise them in that, despise him that sent them [Luke 10:16; 1 Thess. 4:8]; and they that deny him and his Gospel before men, them will he also deny before his Father and the Holy Angels [Matt. 10:33; 2 Tim. 2:12].

Yet we are forewarned by our Lord, to try the spirits [1 John 4:1] which would go forth to deceive, if possible, the very elect [Matt. 24:24; Mark 13:22]; and the apostles saw them [1 John 2:19-20] gone forth from among them, recommending the believers for their protection against such, to the Holy Unction in them, in which they discern the voice of the Lord from the Stranger's [John. 10:4-5, 27], who never since his fall could hear the light, much less his instruments, therefore it is a sure defence to the righteous, for if the trumpet give not a certain sound, who shall prepare for the battle [1 Cor. 14:8]? Shall such then, who preach Christ in words, but in actions are Antichrist, bring forward the Church, or


perfect the saints' faith, who in this practice are an offence to both Jews and Gentiles, and to the Church of God.

And let none think this too uncharitable a judgment, considering the nature of this sin, seeing the least unrepented of is damnable, yet the greatest Sin against Christ as the Son of Man with true repentance (which is always accompanied with forsaking and restitution [2 Cor. 7:10-11]) is pardonable through the great mercy af our God in his Son, which brings joy to the very angels in heaven [Luke 15:10], and to his church and ministers on Earth, whose hearts and souls are open for the gathering of such unto God.

Our friend George Fox [Ed. Note: founder, Society of Friends (Quakers)] in a sermon taken in shorthand as it was preached at a Monthly Meeting in Barbados, tho in the Beginning of Time [Ed. Note: 1671], when many were convinced [to repent] that had slaves, he advised them to use them well, and to bring them up in the fear and knowledge of God, and after a reasonable service to set them free, as we may also see in his Journal, page 354, which was far


from encouraging them to buy more after their convincement. For if they had gone back again into that trade, what had their convincement done for them, but bring them into greater judgment for their disobedience to the manifestation?

For before Friends were a people, many of them were valiant men with the sword for which they were had in great esteem amongst men, because thereby they fought the nation's deliverance from the oppression of priests, physicians and lawyers, the one making a trade of the soul, the other of the body, and the other of the property of the people.

And when our friend George Fox [1624-1691] was called forth by the Lord to minister, not in the wisdom of man [Ed. Note: 1 Cor. 2: 4 allusion], for in that he was unlearned, but in the openings of truth, which manifested to him wherein all these were out of the Way, and that by the universal grace all might be restored in their services, both for the good of soul and body, which caused these worthies to lay down their swords, as unfit for the carrying on of so great a work


which must be done by a higher power, in which they went forth having the sword of the Spirit which gave them victory over principalities & powers, and spiritual wickednesses in high places [Ed. Note: Eph. 6:12 allusion].

And while Friends stood here, testifying against this practice [of slavery], and against every thing that is high and lifted up [Ed. Note: 2 Cor. 10:5 allusion], as inconsistent with this glorious day, then did the Work prosper, tbat large Meetings were settled herein and flourished. But in time this dark trade creeping in amongst us, to the very ministry, because of the profit by it, hath spread over others like a leprosy, to the grief of the honest-hearted, that they are constrained to sojourn in Mesech or dwell in the Tents of Kedar [Ed. Note: Ps. 120:5 allusion], the habitation of blood; which the hired preachers that live by the Law, have testified against, as the highest immmorality which some have gone into when all others have failed them, whereby their hearers have been convinced by them of the evil of it.

And shall we fall short and lay waste the ancient testimony, which was and is for the bringing down


of all opression and violence, that instead thereof everlasting righteousness may be established, and we may have confidence before God that we have a conscience void of offence both towards God and towards all men, is the fervent desire of

Thy Friend in the Truth,


Practice of the Times.

I. The Salutation

MY FRIEND, whomsoever thou art that deals in slaves, or hath had any fellowship therewith in the love of God than desires the peace and the restoration of the whole creation, I now salute thee, that thou mayest consider that principle and foundation on which this practice stands, since for every idle word we must give an account [Matt. 12:36], and on all our actions are established an eternity and whomsoever we yield ourselves to obey, his servants we are, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto life [Rom. 6:16].

II. The Fall of Lucifer and his Angels,
the Original of Oppression and all Sins,
Which He Introduced into Our First Parents

For what comes from God leads unto God; and what comes from the De-


vil (who became such by rebellion) unto death and hell, where he is centred; from whom, all wrath and violence proceeded. He was not created such, nor his angels, as is observed in the epistle of Jude, that they fell from their first estate, and from their habitations God created them in.

Which great fall and debasement to Lucifer, so proud a spirit that he is termed the Son of the Morning [Isa. 14:2], and being thus defeated in his evil purpose, raised in him a principle of envy against God, and all the creation, which the Lord made very good, according to his own nature, and made Man the Top of the Creation, a living soul, an image of his own eternity, who is all love and goodness in himself, and his works are accordingly; and while Man stood in this upright life, all was perfect peace and love, throughout the whole creation of God, until evil was introduced by the insinuations of the Serpent, that envy'd the happiness thereof and enticed our first parents to eat of the forbidden fruit, that was good of itself, being created by the Lord, but evil unto them, in that they disobeyd the holy commandment.

So that the Lord created not death, neither has he pleasure


in the destruction of the living [Ed. Note: Ezek. 18:23, 18:32 and 33:11 allusions], but thro envy of the devil came death into the world; and they that do hold on his side, do find it so, drawing it to them, by disobedience; as Eve immediately and Adam instrumentally, giving ear to the temptation, thereby the mind became captivated to lust, which being conceived brought forth sin, and sin finished brought forth death [Ed. Note: James 1:14-15 allusion], both to the inward and the outward Man, and a suffering and degeneracy, throughout the whole creation, which groans and travels in pain to be delivered, even until now [Ed. Note: Rom. 8:22 allusion], through the evil property and barbarous disposition of the natural man; yet through the mercy and good will of God, in the promised seed of the woman, he was not thus left, but put in a capacity of being restored to his original purity and uprightness, whereby he governs the creation, in love and tenderness, that they partake of the benefit of his redemption.

III. Oppressors Cain's Seed, and Not the Negroes

And these two births are eminently shewed unto us in Cain and Abel, Abel's geniture being of the Lord, through the promised seed, unto which he was united, gave his sacrifice accep-


tance, which raised envy in Cain, who rcjecting this high birth, as many now do, he became one with the evil property that was introduced by his father the devil; and his works of violence and oppression (the height of wickedness in respect to men) he brought forth, which in time spread over the whole Earth [Ed. Note: Gen. 6:13 allusion], for which the Lord destroyed them by the Deluge [Gen. 6:17 allusion]: And thus Cain's race ended, but his image and life remains in all them that act in the same principle.

IV. Neither are They the Seed of Canaan,
the Sons of Ham Being All Destroy'd,
and their Land Given to the Israelites

Neither can these Negroes be proved, by any genealogy, the seed of Ham, whom Noah cursed not [Gen. 9:25 allusion], saith Josephus, as being too nigh of blood. But Noah's curse on Canaan the youngest son of Ham, is thought a fruitful original for the Negro [slave] Trade: But the curse is not so extensive, as you would have it, but is thus expressed, Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be, unto his brethren [Gen. 9:25 allusion]. So that he was to serve the meanest of the offspring of Shem and Japheth; but the time came that the Canaanites were destroyed with a mighty destruction, according to the promise of the Lord, Deu. vii. 23, and Josephus


Lib. 4, Chap. 8, and other places. And their land given unto the seed of Abraham, as the Lord showed him in a vision, when he sojourned therein amongst the Canaanites, that then had possession of it. Genesis xii: 6, 7, also Judges the v. Deborah in her Song, rejoices that the very stars in their courses fought against Sisera [Judg. 5:20], which is more fully expressed by Josephus, Lib. 5, Chap. 1 & 6, that the Lord fought against the Canaanites, with hosts of judgments, until they were destroyed: So that their Race is ended as well as that Dispensation; how then can these Negroes or Indians be slaves to Christians, who are the Lord's freemen? But if these Negroes are slaves of slaves, according to the curse; Whose slaves then must their masters be?

V. Joseph's Being Sold Did Not Excuse the Buyers from Theft

It was the murderous spirit of the brethren of Joseph, that sold him to the Ishmaelites, the Seed of the Bond Woman, and they again sold him into Egypt and though they paid for him by bargain twenty pieces of silver, yet it did not excuse them from theft, as we may see by the testimony of that righteous man, when in the dungeon: "Indeed (saith he) I was stolen out of the land of


the Hebrews," Gen. xl:15. And those things being written for our learning [Ed. Note: Rom. 15:4 allusion], let us shun their sins, that we may escape their punishments; for God is a God of justice [Ed. Note: Ps. 89:14 allusion], by whom actions are weighed [Ed. Note: 1 Sam. 2:3 allusion], who regards all his works, and will recompence all wrongs [Ed. Note: Ezek. 7:3-4 allusion, and many others]; and it is as consistent with his justice to revenge the cause of the oppressed, as it is with his mercy to reward the just.

VI. The Nature of this Trade, or Rather
the Unnaturalness of this Trade, Considered

And what greater injustice can be acted, than to rob a man of his liberty, which is more valuable than life, and especially after such a manner as this, to take a man from his native country, his parents and brethren, and other natural enjoyments, and that by stealth, or by way of purchase from them that have no right to sell them, whereby thou receiveth the theft, which is as bad.

And take them amongst a people of a strange language, and unnatural climates, which is hard for them to bear whose constitutions are tendered by the heat of their native country; for God that made the world, and all men of one blood, that dwell upon the face of the Earth, has appointed them bounds of their habitations, Acts 17:26. Shall


we then undertake to remove them, wheresoever interest shall lead us, to sell them for slaves, [separating] husband from wife, and children from both, like beasts, with all their increase, to the vilest of men, and their offspring after to all Eternity: Oh! hard Lot!

Oh! eternal sinking in iniquity; without bottom or bounds, as to the wilI of man therefore as Jacob said, of Simeon and Levi,
"Instruments of cruelty are in their habitations, O my soul, come not thou into their secret, nor be united in their assembly; for in their anger they slew a man, (but these have slain many) Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, & their wrath, for it is cruel [Gen. 49:5-7],"
to keep the creature thus in bondage, whereby we entail sin on our posterity ad infinitum, tho' our Saviour says, he that dies therein, where he is gone shall never come.

Like the Jews when they crucified Christ, desired his blood might remain on them and their children [Matt. 27:25]; and yet so blind were they, as many are now, through being accustomed to sin, that they see not this [slave] trade to be an evil, tho it is manifest to a child in the light: But if the light in us becomes dark, how great is that darkness [Matt. 6:23], that sees not the ground and tendency of this practice, and that the de-


design of the enemy against the Church of Christ, in causing the name of God to be profaned, and the truth to be evil spoken of; as though the principles thereof led to it, which has scandalized and hindered the gospel of Christ among the heathen, and burdened the upright, and offended tender seeking souls, and caused them to dwell as alone, from all societies, where this practice is indulged, and especially in the Ministry, lest they should have fellowship with that, that contradicts the gospel of Christ, and yet desires nothing more than to be one with the spirits of those that are not defiled with this iniquity, that now Works in the mystery, in this time of peace, amongst those that pretend to the Dispensation of the Son of God, and yet have not fulfilled the Law of Moses, unto which Negro Masters would recur for the justification of their practice, but let all such be silent in the cause of the gospel, neither let them charge the Law of God foolishly, which expressly forbids either the stealing of men, or the receiving them, under the penalty of death. Ex. 21:16.

Therefore deceive not thy own soul, for according to thy


sowing so shall thy reaping be; if to the flesh, corruption, but if to the spirit, everlasting life [Gal. 6:7-8].

VII. That It Hath Defaced the Present Dispensation

Had Friends stood clear of this practice, that it might have been answered to the traders in slaves, That there is a people called Quakers in Pennsylvania, that will not own this practice in word or deed, then would they have been a burning and a shining light to these poor heathen, and a precedent to the nations throughout the universe, which might have brought them to have seen the evil of it in themselves, and glorified the Lord on our behalf, and like the Queen of the East to have admired the glory and beauty of the Church of God.

But instead thereof, the tender seed in the honest-hearted is under suffering, to see both elders and ministers as it were clothed with it, and their offspring after them filling up the measure of their parents iniquity [Ed. Note: Matt. 23:32 allusion]; which may be suffered till such time that recompence from him that is just to all his creatures, opens that eye the God of this World has blinded [2 Cor. 4:4].

Though I would not be understood to pervert the order of the body, which consists of servants and masters, and the head cannot say


to the foot, I have no need of thee" [1 Cor. 12:21]; but it is the converting men's liberty to our wills, who have not, like the Gibeonites, offered themselves willingly, or by consent given their ear to the door-post, but are made such by force, in that nature that desires to lord it over their fellow-creatures, is what is to be abhorred by all Christians.

VIII. And is Contrary to the Dispensation of Angels

VIII. Love to God, and hospitality to strangers, was recommended under all Dispensations, whereby, saith the apostle, "some have entertained angels unawares" [Heb. 13:2], whose mission was to the righteous souls that sought the good of all men, as was testified of just Lot, that "his righteous soul was grieved with Sodom's filthiness' [2 Pet. 2:7], which by the apostle is linked with murderers of fathers, and murderers of mothers, and men-stealers [1 Tim. 1:10], all which by the Law are under the sentence of death.

And were you so living in the body as to be sensible of the sufferings, some souls go through on this account, surely you would riot be guilty of it, but act as they that shall be judged by the Law of Liberty. Besides, how can a Christian, zealous for the name and cause of Jesus those in


his Family, that are not of the same belief with him. Was it not the mind of Joshua, tho' under the Law, that he and his house would serve the Lord [Josh. 24:15].

IX. And [Contrary] to the Practice of Abraham

Also Abraham, in whose righteous seed all the families of the earth are blessed, is eminent for his regard to the Lord's Covenant, in that he caused all his household, both children and servants, whether born in his house, or bought [hired] with money, to be circumcised with him, that they might keep the way of the Lord, Gen. xviii. 9. So that herein Abraham brought them to the Lord, in the Faith, which was accounted to him for righteousness, and his end was answered, for Abraham believed God with all his house, which, had he come by them as we do by the Negroes, or Indian slaves, they would hardly have regarded Abrham, or believed in the Lord, or his Ordinance.

But does this appear in this trade that we seal them to the Lord and his people, or their liberty and property to us and our children, let the impartial judge since we go for them for that very end. Therefore you are short of the Law which must be fulfilled before a higher


Dispensation is known, which Moses testified of, that those souls that would not obey should be cut off, yet Moses was faithful in that Dispensation, in ministering to Pharaoh and Egypt for their oppression. And though they held Israel as an abomination, yet it did not excuse them from being overthrown, and branded accordingly with the name of the "House of Bondage" throughout all generations.

And then Israel could not offer their offerings, neither could they sing the Lord's Song in the strange Land, but hung their harps on the willows when they were captivated in Babylon, whom John the Divine saw should be overthrown, as a great Millstone in the sea.

Then will the Saints be glad and rejoice, that have not defiled themselves with any of her merchandize, the worst of which is slaves and souls of men; and those virgin souls whose garments are not spotted with the flesh, but are thus redeemed from the Earth, can sing the Song of Moses the servant of God, and the Song of the Lamb, saying
"Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty, just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, and glorify thy name? For thou


only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest" []Rev. 15:3-4].
And when we witness this gospel, Oh! how does the love of God in us abound for the welfare and restoration of every living creature, and especially mankind, that we may be redeemed from Babylon's sins, whereby we may escape her plagues.

X. Trial of this Trade by the Law

But to return to the Law, that was given to a hard-hearted People, unto whom many Things were suffered on that account, that they made captives of those they were at war with, and drove out the inhabitants that possessed the Promised Land, which they had forfeited by their wickedness; but what is that to us, who are not at war with these Negroes; neither can we say their country is given unto us, or that we have a command or a Dispensation for the [slave] trade; (a prediction you have, and so had Judas to betray the truth for gain) yet ready are you to fasten on the hardest thing that was suffered to them, while you pretend to the Dispensation of that grace and truth that comes by Jesus Christ. Yet even amongst the Jews, if


one became poor to be sold unto a brother or to a stranger, any of his kin may redeem him, or, if able, he may redeem himself: and the price of his redemption shall be according to the number of years to the year of Jubilee; and if he fails of these opportunities of redemption, the Jubilee shall release him, not only from servitude, but shall restore him to his family and possession.

XI. The Law for Theft, Whereby is Manifested
the Fullness of it, Yet so that Mercy Should be
Shown to Every Creature, Which is our Best
Defence from the Wrathful Principle

Also, according to the Law of God, Exod. xxii:3, if a thief cannot make full restitution to the owner, he shall be sold for his theft; which law, were it in force now or thieves confined to Briawels according to demerit, would more suppress theft than cutting them off in their sins; for idleness being generally the cause it might be re- moved by teaching them labour, which may redound both to their and the public benefit and give them oppportunity to go out of the world in a better condition.

Or if our minerals or manufactures were improved by the labour of such crimmals, they would be a living testimony, to warn others by their bondage and slavery, and a just recompence for their idle practices, which lie


heavy on those that have done us no wrong: Yet in that love that cements the whole creation, and beareth all things, I would advise my brethren, whether Indian, Moor or tawney slaves, for whom Christ has suffered, therefore let us his creatures submit with patience to what our Lord has permitted in this world, as believing that there is an eternal region which swallows up this, wherein he will vindicate his justice.

Therefore for his sake who suffered for us, in whom we may be free indeed, and over the heads of our oppressors, and over our present suffering, whereby we may cheerfully, for our little time here, fulfil our daily task, and gain the love of those we are under in the land of our captivity, which will prevent evil words among us, and severity and cruelty towards us or otherwise they will treasure up unto themselves wrath against the Day of Wrath, when we possess a boundless liberty; in our eternal habitations, in which we have a large room when we are central thereto.

Also if any are under, or liable to be under the sentence of death for theft, let them submit unto it as just unto them, having broken a known law which ought


[pp 16-25]

XII. That Preachers Being Guilty of this Trade
hath Decoy'd away Many Well-meaning People,
Who Afterwards Feeling Their Own Captivity,
Would Come to Any Terms for Deliverance

Though I am sensible that some well-meaning people have unthinkingly run into it, neglecting the oracle of God, have looked at others, and especially those who have presumed to mention the Lord's name, and to take his covenant into their mouths, who are the greatest of deceivers, and have betrayed them into this [men-stealing] practice, as if it was no evil, till they have seen their own captivity and bondage, and that they have been led astray by the others' hypocrisy, & then they would gladly have been clear, and to have come to their former condition; for whose sakes am I thus concerned, that you may wait upon the Lord to know his will concerning you, who is able and willing to help the sincere out of it, that would freely part with all for his sake, and their own redemption, knowing that sin must bear his judgments, that we fall not short of his mercies; for how can any man in this Gospel Dispensation, whose conscience is not seared [Ed. Note: 1 Tim. 4:2 allusion], die in peace, to leave these poor creatures in such unhappy circumstances; for though their Maker might grant them all enjoyment but liberty, how does he know what


barbarous hands they may fall into when he is gone, which then would make their bondage and severity more grievous to them; which often happens; for those that are trained up in this sin, become more hard & dark than the rest of [the] human race; which I have often experienced in my travels amongst men concerned; and the more men have pretended to religion, the more dark have they been, striving to cover their sin.

XIII. A Caution to Those
That Have Not Touched with It

Which leads me to caution all that have not defiled themselves therewith, to shun it as thou value thine own soul, which should be more to thee than the gain of the whole world [Matt. 16:26], that if thy father should offer to give thee slaves, center thou to the WITNESS of JESUS in thy soul, which cannot consent to sin, and in the openings of the universal love of God in Christ for all mankind, resist the temptation, whereby thou mayest come over [be an example to] thy parents for good, by thy denying an interest [inheritance] so near to thee.

I offer nothing but what I desire to rule my life by, and take to my own soul, under the same temptation, for I am so from any antipathy to the black


people, that if it was a trade ordained of God, I would lay out my interest that way.

But I have not so learned Christ, as to think, much less to believe, that the eternal love of the Father, in him that suffered that ignominious death of the cross for the redemption of the whole creation, should allow his followers in the most arbitrary and tyrannical oppression that Hell has invented on this globe; which would better become the religion of Mahomet, which was introduced by human force, than for the ministers of the Prince of Peace: For he that would propagate the Gospel thereby destroys it. [Ed. Note: See a similar analysis, 1846, by Rev. Wm. Patton.]

Therefore let us wait for access to the Throne of Grace, that we may have admittance to the balance of the sanctuary, to weigh these things; and then put in thy lordliness and riches, and estates founded on oppression; and though thou hast built a town with Blood, and established a city with iniquity, and thou could'st put in the glory of the whole world, which passes away, and is but according to the Prince of the Power of the Air [Ed. Note: Eph. 2:2 allusion]; and then see if it will answer to the loss of eternal riches, to thy soul, which cost


the blood of thy redeemer; under the sense of which am I thus drawn forth unto thee, that if it should please the Lord I might be of service but to one soul, I should be sufficiently recompensed for my thus exposing my self to the censures of men; and for this labour of love, and the groans and supplications that have been offered up unto the Lord night and day, that this trade, with the whole train of iniquity attending it, might be wept out of all Churches that make mention of thy name; that the knowledge of thee, the Lord, might spread over the universe, whom to know is life eternal, that thy Gospel may be preach'd in the true property of it, to the drawing in of souls unto thee, that the light of the moon may be as the sun, and the light of the sun as seven days; and that all oppesson and violence, that has hindered the progress of thy Truth, may be centered, with the author thereof to the Pit that is Bottomless [Ed. Note: Rev. 17:8 allusion].

XIV. The Author's Insufficiency for such a Work,
with His Own Particular Exercise,
Which Can Only Be Understood by Those
That have been Baptized, Under the Same Suffering

And though I esteem my self less than the least of all his mercies, and the unworthiest to offer my mite, yet the Lord knows the sufferings I have gone


[pp 30-33]

the unrighteousness and and ungodliness of men. And blessed be thy holy name, who gave me a secret hope, and manifested unto my soul how this practice was suffered, to try who would sell thee and thy truth for gain; who gives the blessing to those that are not offended in Thee!

For where no temptation is, there is no victory, therefore let us come beyond custom and tradition, or we shall not differ from a Jew, a Turk, or a Pagan, who remain such according thereto; but let us center to the Spirit of Christ in our own hearts, that we may know the truth for ourselves; and in the fear of the righteous Judge of Quick and Dead, cosider these things, that we may be able to stand trial when all our actions, words and intentions must be accounted for, in that Day when nothing can stand before him, but what is of his own nature: Therefore, whatsoever we find to do, let us do it with our might [Ed. Note: Eccl. 9:10 allusion], for time is short, and our works are for eternity.

XV. A Trial of this Trade by tbe Prophets

Therefore let us try if the Dispensation of the Prophets will all this [slavery] practice, and if we will not believe Moses nor the Prophets, neither will we be


persuaded though one rise from the Dead [Ed. Note: Luke 16:31 allusion]. The prophet Isaiah, who was eminently favoured with the Knowledge of the Humiliation and Passion, and Office of Christ, and the Government and Glory of his Church, though for brevity-sake I shall only mention what the present occasion may require; of the Passion of Christ he saith, Chap. liii 6:
"The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all: He was oppressed and afflicted who had done no violence, neither was deceit found in his mouth," as is there more fully expressed.

And he declares of his Office thus, Chap.Ixi. 1, 2:
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek. He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclam liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable Year of the Lord, and the Day of Vengeance of our God" against sin;
and though this may chiefly regard the upward man, which is the better part, yet the mystery does not destroy the history, as we may see Chap lviii:6 where the Lord ordains the fast that he will accept of, which is to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppres-


[pp 36-39]

lence cover the whole Earth; And then what became of the Old World, for the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive [Ed. Note: Gen. 6:3 allusion], which hath often visited us, both immediately and instrumentally, whereby our ground hath been often watered, and if it brings forth briars and thorns, it is nigh unto cursing, in the sense of which my desires have been unto the Lord, for the eternal welfare of every soul having nothing against the person of any man, but at the evil, that must end where it had its beginning: For had you liberty in the truth for this trade, I should be so far from begrudging you, or spying it out with an evil eye, that I would freely partake with you therein.

But it is so far wide thereof, that if this is not an evil there is no evil in the world but what tradition and custom makes such. Neither do I begrudge your profit thereby, knowing right well men's life consists not in the abundance of his possessions [Luke 12:15], having known how to be full and to be hungry, how to abound and to suffer need [Ed. Note: Phil. 4:12 allusion], in desolate parts of the world, yet content with what the Lord's Providence provided for me, and was more enjoyment to me than to be a captive in a king's court.


XVI. Also by the Dispensation of John the Baptist,
and of the Kingdom Both in the
Appearance of Christ in the Flesh,
and in the Spirit

Also under the Dispensation of John the Baptist, who was the greatest of prophets [Matt. 11:11; Luke 7:28], who preached repentance as an introduction to the Kingdom of Heaven at Hand, who was the voice crying in the Wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths strait" [Ed. Note: Matt. 3:1-3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; and John 1:23]. His testimony was, to do violence to no man [Luke 3:14], without excepting either Indian or Ethiopian. And what greater violence can be acted than to rob a man and his posterity of their liberty, so long as they remain in this region.

Yet the least under the Dispensation of the Kingdom, is greater than John [Matt. 11:11; Luke 7:28] who have witnessed the divine life, that is hid with Christ in God; who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the Fathers, by the Prophets (which chiefly regarded moral duties between Man and Man, to do as we would be done by) but he hath in these last days, spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the Worlds [Heb. 1:1-2], who does not destroy, but fulfils and swallows up all the foregoing Dispensations [Matt. 5:17] as the Rock [Ed. Note: 1 Cor. 10:4 allusion] they pointed to which is the Everlasting Sabbath that gives rest to the whole Creation of


[pp 42-55]

XVII. The Cause of the Church's Degeneracy

But in time getting into favour with Princes, and partaking with their dignities, were carried away thereby from the Power, who then began to intermix with the heathen in their customs and grandeur, and to model the Church accordingly; and losing their first love and unity [Ed. Note: Rev. 2:4 allusion], in which they stood cemented in one Body, which being now broke, gave the Adversary advantage to introduce many traditions into the Churches, contrary to the Law of God and so quarrelled with one another about ceremonies and creeds, and many things mentioned on record, regarding the outside appearance, and setting up of separate powers, more than righteousness (by which the Sheep of Christ are distinguished at the great Day) which clouded the Churches, and brought a general apostacy over the christian nations.

XVIII. The Inconsistency This Trading
in Bondslaves Has with Friend Principles

Yet the Lord often raised his prophets and ministers, to testify against their practices; who proceeded to a Reformation, not only of principles, which of themselves are dead, like Faith without Works [Ed. Note: James 2:20 allusion], but of Doctrine and Prac-


ice, according as the Day appeared, unto which they were faithful, having sealed their testimony with their blood, as an army of martyrs, from whence have proceeded, as the seed of the Church, many righteous plants, who have at sundry times made a large progress toward a Reformation, which was not so fully accomplished, until the Lord singularly favoured our worthy elders and fathers, with the knowledge of his truth, as it is in Jesus, which gave them an understanding that the humane part in Man, which is from the Earth, though never so learned, cannot act in things divine, which is beyond its sphere, therefore they found a necessity to throw themselves on a higher power, that worked in them; which by the discoveries it made, was known to be a divine light, and grace from Christ, for the salvation of every man that cometh into the world, that gives heed thereto; that they may witness the ministration of condemnation, to the very root of iniquity; which is to be consumed in the Fire, that a Way may be opened to a more glorious Ministration of Righteousness, performed by the Spirit of God, which makes up the Baptism of Christ, where-


[pp 58-61]

as the first fruits of the resurrection from the Dead, who is the Well-Spring of all our Mercies, through his blood, and is ascended on high, making intercession for us, and has given gifts unto men for their perfection.

But what hast thou to do with this Dispensation, that hast not discerned thy own spirit and condition? How shalt thou minister to spirits in prison? Thou, that teachest a man should not steal, but work with his hands the thing which is good [Eph. 4:28]; and yet dost thou become a receiver [of stolen property], which by the outward Law [Ex. 21:16] is judged together [with the original theft]? and blame Egypt and Babylon for oppression, and yet be guilty of the same practice?

As nothing is more hateful than oppression, which will make a wise man mad, so what can more contradict itself, than to deny [oppose] the use of the Carnal Sword [War], and yet receive of the Prey, which at best is but gained by the Power thereof?

So that this [slave] trade is far wide of Friend's [Quaker] principles in the beginning, and is so to all them that are led by the same truth. And shall we be so implicit [blind], as not to see so unjust a practice, which the darkest times of apostacy has not exceeded? To what purpose then is it to such to pretend to a Reformation? But it is not


so with the honest-hearted, that mourn with them that mourns, and suffers with the sufferers, even in the natural body, and much more in the spiritual body, that nothing might be suffered in the ministry of the gospel that sacrifices to an idol, which hurts the tender conscience that has a zeal for the promotion of the truth, knowing that the luke-warm the Lord will spew out of his mouth [Ed. Note: Rev. 3:16 allusion], unto which he will not return: Which is an anwer to those, who finding that their testimonies against oppression return upon their own heads, they would have this practice [slavery] left passive, as if a man's liberty was a matter indifferent: But, Beloved, was it your own case, you would then make it, as indeed it is, the weighty matters of the Law, Judgment, Justice, and Charity [Matt. 23:23]which is love, which is the greatest of all [I Cor 13:13].

XIX. Objections Answered

But some object, that they may be brought to the christian religion thereby, which is the greatest of Charity. Which discovers the great darkness that [slave] trade brings with it, though the Apostle [Paul] saith of such, that do evil for good to come, their damnation is just [Rom. 3:8], and it is


[pp 64-67]

others, they themselves become castaways [I Cor. 9:27], and draw their flock with them to perdition. Ah! my Friends! the consideration of these things hath been sorrow of heart (beyond what may be mentioned) to those that have considered the worth of souls.

Let such behold and see if there is any sorrow to be compared to it, which I would rather have chosen to have bewailed in the wilderness, were it the Lord's will, than thus to have appeared against a crime so much in request, which promotes idleness in the rich, being furnished with slaves, that it hinders the poor from bread; which are evils in the Commonwealth, and no doubt had their due weight with our [ate] Assembly, who in a great measure have discountenanced the [slave] trade, which has given them honour in the hearts of the just; who are refreshed thereby, whose supplications are to the Lord, that He would prosper the work in their hands, and rejoice that there are those that seek the good of both church and state.

And in the same love that desires the welfare of both, is this freely gi-


ven, that it may be spread by the readers amongst such as are concerned in the trade, or otherwise, as you may see its service in righteousness; without striking at any creature, but at the evil in all, that the cause may be removed, and that the creation may be governed by love, and this practice disowned in all mankind, and especially by all that name the name of Jesus, that every creature under the whole heavens may be delivered from oppression, as well as

Ralph Sandiford.

To My Select

Dear Friends and Brethren:

If any are offended with me, for the foregoing Treatise, because it came not forth with the concurrence of the Meeting, it is in my heart to desire your freedom with me therein, that all offences may be removed according to the ability the Lord gives me.

If the circumstance of the Meeting had been such, it would have been joy unto me, whereby I should not have known the Baptism I have been baptized with through that were as my life, being begotten by the same love into the faith


[pp 72-73]

fuel for the fire of hell; in all which I beheld the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep [Ps. 107:24], where he caused his light to shine again upon me, and mine eye to see beyond the iniquity; whereby he restored me to the land of the living, where I am known unto you; in which I can subscribe myself unto all mankind,

Your Friend,
R. S.


Title Pagei
I.The Salutation1
II.The Fall of Lucifer and his Angels, the Original of Oppression and all Sins, Which He Introduced into Our First Parents1
III.Oppressors Cain's Seed, and Not the Negroes3
IV.Neither are They the Seed of Canaan, the Sons of Ham Being All Destroy'd, and their Land Given to the Israelites4
V.Joseph's Being Sold Did Not Excuse the Buyers from Theft5
VI.The Nature of this Trade, or Rather the Unnaturalness of this Trade, Considered6
VII.That It Hath Defaced the Present Dispensation9
VIII.And is Contrary to the Dispensation of Angels10
IX.And to the Practice of Abraham11
X.Trial of this Trade by the Law13
XI.The Law for Theft, Whereby is Manifested the Fullness of it, Yet so that Mercy Should be Shown to Every Creature, Which is our Best Defence from the Wrathful Principle14
XII.That Preachers Being Guilty of this Trade hath Decoy'd away Many Well-meaning People, Who Afterwards Feeling Their Own Captivity, Would Come to Any Terms for Deliverance26
XIII.A Caution to Those That Have Not Touched with It27
XIV.The Author's Insufficiency for such a Work, with His Own Particular Exercise, Which Can Only Be Understood by Those That have been Baptized, Under the Same Suffering29
XV.A Trial of this Trade by tbe Prophets34
XVI.Also by the Dispensation of John the Baptist, and of the Kingdom Both in the Appearance of Christ in the Flesh, and in the Spirit41
XVII.The Cause of the Church's Degeneracy56
XVIII.The Inconsistency This Trading in Bondslaves Has with Friend Principles56
XIX.Objections Answered63
To My Select Friends71

[In interim, pending completion of this site,
you can obtain this book via your local library.]

Other Related Black History at

Related Writings by Other Authors
Roman Catholic Anti-Slavery Data
B. Lay's 1737 Slaveholders
(Cites Sandiford's Book)
Rev. T. Weld's 1839
Slavery Conditions
Alvan Stewart's 1845
Legal Speech For Freeing Slaves
P 34 cites the Ten Commandments)
Rev. J. Fee's 1849
Non-Fellowship With Slaveholders
The Duty of Christians

Rev. J. Fee's 1851
Anti-Slavery Manual
Rev. P. Pillsbury's 1883
Acts of the Anti-Slavery Apostles
Rev. Wm. Patton's 1846
Pro-slavery Interpretations of the
Bible: Productive of Infidelity

Rev. Wm. Goodell's 1852
Slavery and Anti-Slavery
(Cites Sandiford's Book)
H. B. Stowe's 1853
Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin
F. Douglass' 1860
Unconstitutionality of Slavery