In the past these theologians not only condoned slavery,
but made it, as it were, a divine institution, in that they
argued that the curse pronounced upon Canaan, legitimately
fell upon the Negro race of Africa and of the world. Even
the just-minded Adam Clark is heard to ask, referring to
the judgment pronounced upon the Gibeonites (Josh 9: 21):
"D)es not this refer to what was pronounced by Noah
against Ham and his posterity? Did not the curse of Ham
imply slavery and nothing else?" To the same import are the
words of Newton in his dissertation,On the Prophecies. Having
convinced himself that the curse was really pronounced on
Ham,* the plain words of Scripture, however, to the contrary,
*My suspicion hath since been confirmed by the reverend
and learned Mr. Green, Fellow of Clare Hall in Cambridge,
who is admirably well skilled in the Hebrew language and He¬
brew metre, and hath given abundant proof of his knowledge
and judgment in these matters in his new translation and com¬
mentary on the Song of Deborah, the prayer of Habakkuk, etc.
He asserts that according to Bishop Hare's metre, the words,
ham abi, are necessary to fill up the verse. He proposes a fur¬
ther emendation of the text by the omission of one line, and
the transposition of another, and would read the whole para¬
graph thus, according to the metre.
' And Noah said.
Cursed be Ham the Father of Canaan ;
A servant of servants shall he be to his brethren.
And he said,
Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Shem ;
For he shall dwell in the tents of Shem.
God shall enlarge Japheth ;
And Canaan shall be his servant."
—Newton On the Prophecies, p. 18.
In the presence of such intellectual surgery of the word of
God as is here hinted at, who can wonder at the infidelity of
the last century—who wonder that one of the unbelievers (Dr.
Wells) was profane enough to say that to " obtain the prophetic
spirit, they played upon music and drank wine"—and this in
seference to the very prophecy under consideration.
—Leland's Deistical Writers, p. $j,