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

THE PREFACE TO THE READER

THIS ACCOUNT of the life and spiritual experience of James Albert was taken from his own mouth and committed to paper by the elegant pen of a young lady of the town of Leominster, for her own private satisfaction, and without any intention at first that it should be made public. But she has now been prevailed on to commit it to the press, both with a view to serve Albert and his distressed family, who have the sole profits arising from the sale of it; and likewise as it is apprehended, this little history contains matter well worthy the notice and attention of every Christian reader.

Perhaps we have here in some degree a solution of that question that has perplexed the minds of so many serious persons, namely, in what manner will God deal with those benighted parts of the world where the gospel of Jesus Christ hath never reached? Now it appears from the experience of this remarkable person, that God does not save without the knowledge of the truth; but, with respect to those whom he hath foreknown, though born under every outward disadvantage, and in regions of the grossest darkness and ignorance, he most amazingly acts upon and influences their minds, and in the course of wisely and most wonderfully appointed providences, he brings them to the means of spiritual information, gradually opens to their view the light of his truth, and gives them full possession and enjoyment of the inestimable blessings of his gospel. Who can doubt but that the suggestion so forcibly pressed upon the mind of Albert (when a boy) that there was a being superior to the sun, moon, and stars (the objects of African idolatry) came from the Father of Lights, and was, with respect to him, the first fruit of the display of gospel glory? His long and perilous journey to the coast of Guinea, where he was sold for a slave, and so brought into a Christian land; shall we consider this as the lone effect of a curious and inquisitive disposition? Shall we in accounting for it refer to nothing higher than mere chance and accidental circumstances? Whatever infidels and deists may think; I trust the Christian reader will easily discern an all-wise and omnipotent appointment and direction in these movements. He belonged to the redeemer of lost sinners; he was the purchase of his cross; and therefore the Lord undertook to bring him by a way that he knew not, out of darkness into his

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