John Leland lived in Virginia for 14 years but never owned a slave. He wrote the following resolution for the Virginia Baptist General Committee, and it was passed by them, in 1789 . . .
“Resolved — That slavery is a violent deprivation of the rights of nature, and inconstent with a republican government; and we, therefore, recommend it to our brethren, to make use of every legal measure to extirpate this horrid evil from the land, and pray Almighty God that our honorable legislature may have it in their power to proclaim the great Jubilee, consistent with the principles of good policy.”
Upon leaving Virginia in 1791 he wrote in his “Letter of Valediction” . . .
Slavery, in its best appearance, is a violent deprivation of the rights of nature, inconsistent with republican government, destructive of every humane and benevolent passion of the soul, and subversive to that liberty absolutely necessary to ennoble the human mind, let me ask whether Heaven has nothing in store for poor negroes better than these galling chains? If so, ye ministers of Jesus, and saints of the Most High, ye wrestling Jacobs, who have power with God, and can prevail over the angel, let your prayers, your ardent prayers, ascend to the throne of God incessantly, that He may pour the blessing of freedom upon the poor blacks. If public prayers of this kind, would raise the anger of tyrants, or embolden the slaves in insolence, let the sable watches of the night, in lonely solitude, be witnesses to your sincere longings after the liberty of your fellow creatures.
How would every benevolent heart rejoice to see the halcyon day appear — the great jubilee usher in, when the poor slaves, with a Moses at their head, should hoist up the standard, and march out of bondage! Or, what would be still more elating, to see the power of the gospel so effectual that the lion and the lamb should lie together — all former insults and revenges forgotten — the names of master and slave be buried — every yoke broken, and the oppressed go free — free but not empty away.
Late in his life he wrote the following . . .
“The slave trade, in purchasing and kidnapping the Africans and making slaves of them in America, is justly condemned by every benevolent man; but thousands and thousands of those who were thus treated, with their off spring, have heard the gospel and received its blessings, which they would not have obtained in their own land. Men should never do evil, that good may come; but when they do evil, God can overrule it to good purposes.”