Pioneers of the Black Atlantic: Five Slave Narratives from the Enlightenment, 1772-1815

By Henry Louis Gates Jr.; William L. Andrews | Go to book overview

PREFACE

Reader,

THE FOLLOWING NARRATIVE is as plain and artless, as it is surprising and extraordinary. Plausible reasonings may amuse and delight, but facts, and facts like these, strike, are felt, and go home to the heart. Were the power, grace, and providence of God ever more eminently displayed, than in the conversion, success, and deliverances of John Marrant? He and his companion enter the meeting at Charleston together; but the one is taken, and the other is left. He is struck to the ground, shaken over the mouth of hell, snatched as a brand from the burning; he is pardoned and justified; he is washed in the atoning blood, and made happy in his God. You soon have another view of him, drinking into his master's cup; he is tried and perplexed, opposed and despised; the neighbors hoot at him as he goes along; his mother, sisters and brother, hate and persecute him; he is friendless, and forsaken of all. These uneasy circumstances call forth the corruptions of his nature, and create a momentary debate, whether the pursuit of ease and pleasure was not to be preferred to the practice of religion, which he now found so sharp and severe? The stripling is supported and strengthened. He is persuaded to forsake his family and kindred altogether. He crosses the fence, which marked the boundary between the wilderness and the cultivated country; and prefers the habitations of brutal residence, to the less hospitable dwellings of enmity to God and godliness. He wanders, but Christ is his guide and protector. Who can view him among the Indian tribes without wonder? He arrives among the Cherokees, where gross ignorance wore its rudest forms, and savage despotism exercised its most terrifying empire. Here the child, just turned fourteen, without sling or stone, engages, and with the arrow of prayer pointed with faith, wounded Goliah [Goliath], and conquers the king.

The untutored monarch feels the truth, and worships the God of the Christians; the seeds of the Gospel are disseminated among the Indians by a youthful hand, and Jesus is received and obeyed.

The subsequent incidents related in this Narrative are great and affecting; but I must not anticipate the reader's pleasure and profit.

The novelty or magnitude of the facts contained in the following

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