by E. Hammond
There was held, in Hartford, some years ago, a convention of the colored
Baptist Association of New England. I was invited to address one of the
sessions. To show what those converted in early life are sometimes enabled to
endure by God's grace, I related the following story:
"What's dat, Willie?"
"That's a spelling-book, Jack."
"What's de spellin'-book for?"
"To learn how to read."
"How's you do it?"
"We learn those things first."
And so Jack learned A, B, C, etc., mastered the spelling-book, and then
learned to read a little, though the law forbade any colored person to do
One day Willie brought home a little black book, and Jack said:?
"What's dat, Willie?"
"That is the New Testament, that tells about Jesus."
And, erelong, Jack learned to read the New Testament, and when he read that
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," and that he
really loved us and died for us, and that "if we confess our sins, he is
faithful and just to forgive us our sins," his heart went out in love to
Jesus. He believed in him, his sins were forgiven, his heart was changed,
and he became a happy Christian.
Though a mere child, he at once began to tell others of Jesus' love. When
he became a young man, he was still at work for the Lord. He used to go to
the neighboring plantations, read his Bible, and explain it to the people.
One day the master said to him, "Jack, I am told that you go off preaching
"Yes, mas'r, I must tell sinners how Jesus died on de cross for dem."
"Jack, if you go off preaching on Sunday, I will tell you what I will do on
"What will do you on Monday, mas'r?"
"I will tie you to that tree, take this whip, and flog all this religion
out of you."
Jack knew that his master was a determined man, but when he thought of
Christ's sufferings for us, and heard his Lord saying unto him, "Be thou
faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life," he resolved to
continue his work for the Lord the next Sunday.
With his New Testament in hand, he went down to the plantation and told
them that his master might whip him half to death the next day, but if he
did, he would not suffer more than Christ had suffered for us.
The next morning his master said, "Jack, I hear you were preaching again
"Yes, mas'r. I must go and tell sinners how Jesus was whipped that we might
"But, Jack, I told you that if you went off preaching Sunday, I should whip
you on Monday, and now I will do it."
Blow after blow fell upon Jack's back, while oaths fell from the master's
lips. Then he said:?
"There, Jack, I don't believe you will preach next Sunday. Now go down to
the cottonfield and go to work."
When next Sunday came, Jack could not stand straight, for his back was
covered with sores and scars. But, with his Testament in his hand, he stood
before the people of the plantation, and said, "Mas'r whip me mos' ter
death last Monday, an' I don't know but he will kill me tomorrow, but if he
does, I shall not suffer more than Jesus did when he died on the cross for
Monday morning the master called him and said,
"Jack, I hear you have been preaching again."
"Yes, mas'r. I must go an' tell sinners how Christ was wounded for our
transgressions, how he sweat drops of blood for us in the garden, an' wore
that cruel crown of thorns that we might wear a crown of joy when he
"But I don't want to hear your preaching. Now bare your back, and take the
flogging I told you I should give you if you went off preaching."
Fast flew the cruel lashes, until Jack's back was covered with wounds and
"Now, Jack, go down to the cotton-field and go to work. I reckon you'll
never want to preach again."
When the next Sunday came, Jack's back was in a terrible condition. But,
hobbling along, he found his friends in the neighboring plantation, and
"Mas'r whipped me mos' ter death last Monday, but if I can only get you to
come to Jesus and love him, I am willing to die for your sake tomorrow."
If there were scoffers there, do you not think they were led to believe
there was a reality in religion? If any were there who were inclined to
think that ministers preach only when they get money for it, do you not
think they changed their minds when they saw what wages Jack got? Many were
in tears, and some gave themselves to that Saviour for whose sake Jack was
willing to die the death of a martyr.
Next morning the master called Jack, and said,
"Make bare your back again; for I told you that just as sure as you went
off preaching, I would whip you till you gave it up."
The master raised the ugly whip, and as he looked at Jack's back, all
lacerated, he could find no new place to strike, and said:?
"Why do you do it, Jack? You know that as surely as you go off preaching
Sunday, I will whip you most to death the next day. No one pays you
anything for it. All you get is a terrible flogging, which is taking your
life from you."
"Yer ax me, mas'r, what I'se doin' it fer. I'll tell you, mas'r. I'se goin'
ter tak all dos stripes an' all dos scars, mas'r, up to Jesus, by an' by,
to show him how faithful I'se been, 'cause he loved you an' me, mas'r, an'
bled an' died on the cross for you an' me, mas'r."
The whip dropped, and that master could not strike another blow. In a
subdued tone he said:?
"Go down in the cotton-field."
Do you think Jack went away cursing his master, saying, "O Lord, punish him
for all his cruelty to me"?
No, no! His prayer was, "Lord, forgive him, for Jesus Christ's sake."
About three o'clock, a messenger came down to the cotton-field, crying:
"Mas'r dyin'! Mas'r's dyin'! Come quick, Jack. Mas'r's dyin'!"
In his private room, Jack found his master on the floor in agony, crying:
"O Jack, I'm sinking down to hell! Pray for me! Pray for me!"
"I'se been prayin' for you all de time, mas'r. You mus' pray for yourse'f."
"I don't know how to pray, Jack. I know how to swear, but I don't know how
"You mus' pray, mas'r."
And finally they both prayed, and God revealed Christ on the cross to him,
and then and there he became a changed man.
A few days after, he called Jack to him and said:?
"Jack, here are your freedom papers. They give you your liberty. Go and
preach the gospel wherever you will, and may the Lord's blessing go with
While telling this story at the convention, I noticed a man, perhaps sixty
years of age, with quite gray hair, who was deeply moved. When I had
finished, he sprang to his feet, and, with a clear but tremulous voice,
"I stand for Jack. Mr. Hammond has been speaking of me. He has been trying
to tell my sufferings, but he cannot describe the terrible agony I endured
at the hands of my master, who, because I was determined to preach the
gospel on the plantations around us, every Monday morning for three weeks
called me up and laid the cruel lash upon my back with his own hands until
my back was like raw beef. But God helped me to pray for him, until he was
forgiven and saved through Christ. And, thank God, Jack still lives."
I have given you only a few of his burning words, but I can tell you there
were many eyes filled with tears during this touching scene, which will not
soon be forgotten by those who witnessed it.
E. Hammond, in "Early