On Slavery

The Biography of Elder David Purviance

The following is a poem written by David Purviance (1766-1847) in which he addressed the evils of slavery – a practice that was still going on during his lifetime.

On Slavery

The everlasting Father
The only living God,
Created all the nations
And made them of one blood.
He’s holy, just, and faithful.
Respect he shows to none.
He lov’d the whole creation,
And gave them to his Son.

The Laws which he has given,
Teach universal love.
That mankind may be happy,
As angels are above.
Be not ye called masters,
Or rais’d in your own view,
But do the same to all men,
You’d have them do to you.

If Christ be our Redeemer,
His word we will obey;
If we possess his Spirit,
We’ll walk in the same way,
Jesus was meek and humble,
And to the poor a friend.
He had no sable bondmen,
Who might on him attend.

For men of ev’ry nation
He di’d on Calvary.
The poor have heard his Gospel,
The captives are made free;
But some who say they’re Christians
The followers of the Lord,
Have bought or sold for silver,
The purchase of his blood.

He takes up little children,
That they may blessed be.
He says unto their parents.
Take; bring them up for me,
But some tho’ called Christians,
Them from their parents part,
And sell the tender infants
To men of savage heart.

His children are all brethren,
and he their common Lord,
They must around his table.
His dying love record:
But one is called master,
And claims as property
Another of God’s family
Whom Jesus has made free.

God has made man immortal,
With a capacious mind;
Has giv’n to us his Gospel,
That wisdom we might find:
But thousands are degraded,
Bound in a slavish chain,
Depriv’d of all instruction;
And wisdom cannot gain.

He says relieve th’ oppressed,
The yoke and hands unbind.
Be mindful of the fatherless,
And to the widows kind;
But haughtiness and avarice
Have grown to such a height.
Their cries are disregarded,
Because they are not white.

The Father hears their groanings,
He pities the opprest;
He knows the many thousands
Thus burden’d and distrest;
He sees immortal creatures
Converted into herds,
Abus’d by proud oppressors,
Who fancy they are Lords.

Ev’n some esteem’d as Christians,
This evil do practice.
They treat their slaves with mildness
Hard usage they despise;
But still it is an evil.
They are not free from blame:
Let not this cruel bondage
Disgrace the Christian name.

O Christians, be not backward,
To do your Father’s will;
Your light must not be hidden,
Your voice must not he still.
Be witnesses for Jesus,
And ev’ry sin forsake;
Drink not the wine of Babylon,
Lest you her plagues partake.

If you would follow Jesus,
You must the Cross sustain:
Give up the Hundred Talents,
The Lord will you maintain.
God will destroy oppression,
And ev’ry captive free.
Take warning O slaveholder,
Lest judgments fall on thee.

—David Purviance


The above post is an excerpt from the book, The Biography of Elder David Purviance by Levi Purviance. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!