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John Marrant and the narrative construction of an early black Methodist evangelical.

On the cold winter morning of January 27, 1788, John Marrant boarded a ship headed for Boston and departed from the Halifax, Nova Scotia, port for the final time. For almost three years he had preached to a dedicated and growing congregation of Loyalist Blacks who had emigrated there to escape British-American slavery. His goal, as assigned by the Huntingdon Connection of Calvinist Methodists, was to bring a more rigorous Calvinist predestination doctrine to a region that had previously been led by the more moderate Wesleyan Methodists, who also vied for control of the region. Marrant brought a New Covenant. He used his works and sermons to proclaim himself a prophet, and supported efforts to migrate with his congregation to Sierra Leone where they would set up a liberated and independent Black society, a new Zion. But he would not live to see his congregation depart to settle in Sierra Leone in 1791. Marrant returned to London in March of 1790 to defend himself against charges of squandering his benefactor's contributions to his ministry. Once there, his failing health made him decide to stay in London and preach at a small church in Islington. Aged beyond his years by war wounds, by the hard life of an itinerant minister, and by smallpox, Marrant would occupy his final resting spot in a grave adjacent to his church in the London suburb of Islington on Friday, April 15, 1791, dead at the age of 35.

Marrant's autobiographical writings would document a life seemingly twice that length in experience, a life throughout which he vigorously sought to build a new society worthy of salvation in the Nova Scotia wilderness around the Black Loyalists who fled there after the Revolutionary War. "Marrant did not see Zion built upon his lifetime," observed one commentator. "No prophet, save Enoch, ever has. But he succeeded in constructing a people, a Zion discourse, and a common sense of expectation" (Brooks 1). On at least two major occasions Marrant had to reconstruct his identity in sermon and print, first at his ordination ceremony, when his sermon was chronicled for publication by William Aldridge and Samuel Whitchurch, and again upon the publication of his exploits as a missionary evangelical to the people of Nova Scotia in his 1790 Journal of the Reverend John Marrant.

Marrant engaged in the spread of Christianity tailored to the specific social and political needs of Africans and African Americans living throughout the Atlantic world. Calvinism was at the foundation of his theology, but the tradition as it was being articulated and practiced at the time was not adequate to the circumstances he wanted to address in his ministry. Therefore, the doctrines he developed and espoused were interpretations of Calvinism that addressed the specific social and spiritual needs of English-speaking Black people living throughout the Atlantic world. Principles of equality and social justice grew out of the revolutionary discourse of his time and were foundational in the thinking and practice of Black Revolutionaries and Black Loyalists alike (Root & Branch 156-58). (1) Marrant combined an emphasis on political equality and social justice with a reworked tradition of the covenanted community. The theology that resulted illustrates the roots of Black religion in America, a religion both of tradition and progressive social change.

Like many of his Calvinist predecessors, Marrant elaborated on and developed American Calvinism to address better the issues of the time. However, his subscription to orthodoxy on a number of issues put him in line with many of his English and British American contemporaries. One major challenge to orthodox Calvinism during the first Great Awakening of 1734-1740 was "Arminianism," or the general belief that humans had the capacity to initiate the process of salvation through their own will. Jonathan Edwards believed his revival work to be a corrective to Arminianism, which he regarded as doctrinal error. The revival work of George Whitefield was also, in part, a defense of predestination and orthodox Calvinism that upheld the complete sovereignty of God in the process of salvation. Continuing in the tradition of these well-known evangelicals was the African American evangelist John Marrant.

John Marrant's Narrative

Most of what is known and studied about Marrant comes from his 1785 publication, A Narrative of the Lord's Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, A Black. Transcribed and published by another member of his Methodist connection, this work has been long studied as one of the early Black autobiographies. Actually, it was first presented as an ordination sermon that Marrant delivered shortly before sailing to Nova Scotia to begin his North American ministry.

Marrant's Narrative begins with the details of his birth as a native New Yorker, and explains that his family moved to the American South and ultimately settled in Georgia, where he attended school until he was 11. After the family's final move to Charlestown, he took up music instruction and became a violin player much sought after in his area. As the Narrative progresses, Marrant confesses that he had fallen into a terrible pattern of vice, that he was "devoted to pleasure, and drinking in iniquity like water; a slave to every vice suited to my nature and to my years." One evening while on his way to play his violin for some patrons, he happened to pass by a meetinghouse where a Methodist church service was being held. Thinking he would play a prank on the attendees of what he describes as a loud service, he prepared to blow a French horn among them. Just as he was about to disrupt the service, the minister presiding over the service, the Reverend George Whitefield, addressed the young Marrant, declaring, "PREPARE TO MEET THY LORD GOD, O ISRAEL." By his account, Marrant was stricken to the ground, unconscious, and remained physically ill for several days before he finally gave in to his torment and converted to Christianity with the aid of another minister sent by George Whitefield.

After his conversion, Marrant dedicated his life to evangelizing. He was so dedicated to his newfound religion that his family and former friends grew weary of his enthusiasm and began ostracizing him. Marrant's home environment became so stressful for him that he fled into the wilderness where he faced starvation until befriended by an "Indian hunter" who taught him how to live in the forests and to speak Cherokee. After several weeks of living with and ministering to the Georgian Cherokee, Marrant decided to spread his ministry further among the Native Americans of the region. He moved on for several months to live among and preach to the Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw before returning home. His family had given him up for dead after months of his absence, so they welcomed him back, and he remained with them, working as a carpenter with his brother and preaching to slaves, until the Revolutionary War. He fought in the war as a British sailor and cannoneer for six years before he was seriously wounded during an engagement with a Dutch vessel. Upon his release from military service, Marrant retired to London where he worked for a cotton merchant, intensely studied the Bible, and preached at "Spa-Fields chapel," where he came to the attention of the chapel's benefactor, the Countess of Huntingdon. The Countess arranged Marrant's ordination at one of her other chapels in Bath. The Narrative ends with Marrant's preparations for departure to Nova Scotia, where he was sent to minister to the Loyalist Blacks who had escaped slavery during the Revolutionary War.

Because his autobiography includes accounts of his adventures among the Cherokee, Marrant's Narrative has been studied as both autobiography and captivity narrative. There are, however, no studies of Marrant's Narrative as an ordination sermon, and the function(s) that it served as such. Nor is there much about Marrant's other writings. In particular, his 1790 Journal of John Marrant and several other sermons have much to say about his involvement in the religious debates going on in late 18th-century British America and England. Given the lack of attention given to Early Black evangelical texts by literary scholars, it might be assumed that African American field preachers and exhorters didn't have much to say about the theological debates of the time, but this conclusion would be a mistake, as the written works of John Marrant illustrate.

Competing Christianities and African Converts in the Transatlantic

Black evangelicals were very much involved with the theological discussions between 1760 and 1855, contributing their own arguments and nuances to the various theological positions. For one example, Black evangelicals practiced their own theories of British North American Calvinism, which had very close connections to the Calvinist Methodism that originated from English Protestantism. Furthermore, in 1729 Charles and John Wesley started a study group among their Anglican brethren at Oxford that became known for its methodical religious study and observance. This group called Methodists, were influenced by their exposure to Moravians (a communal Christian sect originating from the Czech region that emphasized pietism, or the personal one-on-one emotional experience between the individual and God). After a series of successful sermons to mass audiences, the Methodist movement began to grow into a significant protestant branch of the Anglican Church. However, the "Methodists" split into competing factions when the Wesley brothers began to abandon predestination for the doctrine of salvation by faith alone.

The Methodists developed notoriety for their energetic and zealous preaching and their ability to draw massive crowds. Although Methodism began as a movement to revitalize the Anglican Church, the new doctrines of faith that went against the traditional state-sponsored Calvinism eventually led John Wesley to split formally from Anglicanism and to register his congregations as dissenting chapels in 1795. (2) The Lord Bishop of London printed a General Evening Post article condemning Methodist field-preaching and enthusiasm as illegal under the Act of Toleration since, as the Lord Bishop argued, field preaching and enthusiasm inspired and could mask seditious activities against the government. (3)

In the midst of all the government regulation, another set of Methodists, led mainly by George Whitefield, competed with the Methodist movement of the Wesley brothers. Although an old friend and former schoolmate of the Wesleys, Whitefield remained staunchly orthodox in his traditional Calvinist principles, and drew patronage from Selena Hastings, the Countess of Huntingdon. Hastings agreed with and supported a strict doctrine of predestination. She assembled around her a cadre of Methodist ministers whose ideology mirrored her own, a group often referred to as the Huntingdon Connection. Although never intending to separate from the Anglican Church, the Huntingdon Connection became increasingly alienated from the state-sponsored church that the Countess wished to reform with her brand of the Methodist movement. Nevertheless, doctrinal and procedural differences led the Methodist chapels under her patronage to begin registering as dissenting chapels in 1783. Not only did the Huntingdon Connection of Methodists compete with the Wesleyan Methodists, but they also faced the legal pressures of registration as a dissenting sect.

Many missionary efforts that involved Black evangelism came out of the complicated set of beliefs within these English Methodist movements. The dogged competition with the Wesleyan Connection, in addition to political pressures, contributed to the Huntingdon Connection's missions and patronage to slaves and free Black people in England and in the North American Colonies. Certainly, the Wesley Connection of Methodists took an overtly antislavery position. However, while the Countess, as well as some of her clergy, owned slaves, it was the Huntingdon Connection that vigorously supported black missionaries and artists. Aggressive ministering to Black people and slaves by popular Huntingdonian evangelicals like George Whitefield and Black Methodist missionaries like John Marrant helped to spread Methodism to Blacks in the North-American colonies prior to and through the revolutionary period.

While the Huntingdonian Methodists did not officially spread an antislavery message to Black people in North America, three forces combined to link Methodism to antislavery values. First, the Wesley Connection of Methodists, with its large following, did have an antislavery doctrine that was incorporated into the Church's official laws for a time in North America. Although Southern pressures caused the church to rescind its official antislavery position, the denomination discouraged slavery. Second, the fact that Methodist evangelicals were spreading the doctrine of Methodism widely to black populations led many to associate Methodism with the growing number of Black converts. This trend also brought great attention to compassionate Methodist ministers, both Huntingdonian and Wesleyan, committed to ameliorating the conditions of slaves. Third, the fact that both Connections authorized emotionalism and enthusiastic preaching appealed to the African and African-descended peoples living in North America who recognized Methodism as a style of worship compatible with traditional forms of worship they had brought with them from Africa. As a result, African descended people incorporated traditional African practices into the developing Methodist traditions, further encouraging large numbers of Black people to adopt Methodism. The emotionalism and egalitarianism that Methodists espoused seems also to have increasingly appealed to poor Whites, who apparently benefited from the catharsis of the emotional and spiritual outpourings in Methodist service. Thus, within 100 years, Methodism was transformed from a small study group of Anglicans in 1729 into a broad transnational egalitarian movement with significant political influence by 1829. The growth of Methodism in North America was due in part to the efforts of British evangelicals who energetically spread the practice, and in part to the transformative efforts of North American Black converts who recognized the spiritual and organizational potential of the movement.

Accounting a Life

Marrant, like Edwards and Whitefield before him, emphasized the Pauline tenet of irresistible grace and the subordination of the human will to divine sovereignty in both of his autobiographies, A Narrative of the Lord's Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant (1785) and A Journal of the Reverend John Marrant (1790). His emphasis on this doctrine allowed him entrance into one of the major theological discussions of the time and won the patronage he needed to be a major missionary voice between England, Nova Scotia, and Boston. However, Marrant was also advancing some new theological ideas dangerous to established authority in his Connection as well as generally. Marrant's ideas were egalitarian in nature: They promoted the dismissal of scholastic pietism and established the importance of the individual's reading of scripture. Marrant preached that the New Testament was the sole authority and arbiter between the individual and salvation, and that Christians should incorporate their own experiences in readings of the Bible. He also advanced extemporaneous or "inspired" preaching and prayer as indicators of genuine Christian development and of godly connection.

Marrant practiced and promoted orthodox principles of Calvinism as one means of attaining a commission to evangelize to a geographically wide-ranging audience. In that effort, Marrant produced two documents that secured his entrance into international revivalism: An ordination sermon that was transcribed in 1785 and his subsequent autobiography. He secured his place in the Huntingdon Connection as an orthodox Calvinist minister through the delivery of the first document. In the second, he advanced his faith in predestination while promoting unorthodox doctrines that better suited the spread of Christianity to Black congregations and the building of covenanted communities of African peoples who could resist white domination.

It is important to emphasize the physical and spiritual strife chronicled in Marrant's ordination sermon and Journal. While the Countess's organizational imperatives may have been a fortunate opportunity for Marrant to enter the Methodist ministry, certain doctrines particular to Huntingdon Methodists probably appealed to his personal sense of identity and helped him to explain the often terrible and perilous circumstances of his life. Pious and sincere in his beliefs, he seems nevertheless to have known that he needed to prove his skill and loyalty to the orthodox doctrines of Calvinism to his potential benefactor, the Countess of Huntingdon. While Marrant and the Countess had different views on the temporal significance of Christianity for free Blacks and slaves, he nevertheless addressed his concern for Black populations that were suffering social and spiritual injustice. He did so even when the sensitive subject of slavery potentially threatened his relationship with the Countess.

For example, his Narrative describes for the first time his ministry to the slaves on the Jenkins plantation where Christianity had previously been forbidden among blacks. Using Methodism as his entree into general discussions of religion and to authorize himself as a legitimate evangelical, he engages in an implicit critique of the American slave system, and offers a Christian argument to help ameliorate the conditions of the slaves on the plantation, such that they might have more free time to worship and to organize a community devoted to liberation. In his 1790 Journal, Marrant further preached a Christianity that fore-grounded Black people's concerns. He thereby advanced the legitimacy of worship practices connected to African tradition and community building. His Journal includes a 1789 sermon to the African Lodge of Masons in Boston, who adopted Methodism and made Marrant their official chaplain. Marrant's efforts further developed Black Methodism and Christianity on an international scale, and contributed to the building of communities and institutions where Black people could assemble to work out principled strategies of resistance to racialized oppression.

The goal of founding a model Christian society like that Marrant envisioned was not new to traditional Calvinist Covenant theology. Many Puritans, as well as other Calvinist sects, attempted to establish colonies in the Americas, viewing these new territories as Edens upon which their own version of Zion could be established. Various British-American religious groups--including the Puritans, Pilgrims, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Episcopals--settled the North American territories. As late as 1753, groups of German-speaking immigrants known as Moravians were still immigrating to the hills of North Carolina to build Christian communities isolated from a sinful, secular world. Each of the numerous Christian sects sought out new territories, where they argued it was their duty to construct religious societies unblemished by secular authority. This tradition of founding such holy societies on the American continent was almost two centuries old by 1785, and Marrant was a part of that tradition, first in unifying his congregations in the Nova Scotia wilderness, and then encouraging their emigration to Sierra Leone.

After his discharge from the British Royal Navy at age 26 in 1782, Marrant spent three years practicing his faith at Spa Fields Chapel in London, a dissenting chapel under the protection of the Countess of Huntingdon. Here he began refining his knowledge of scripture and his skills as an evangelical. Still weakened from war wounds, Marrant took a job working for John Marsden, a London cotton merchant. Marrant lived with Marsden during this period and never faltered in his observance of his religious duties. He worked hard for his employer, and, in his spare time, tended to the poor, giving away what money and food he did not use. Marrant "feared God," his employer remarked, "and had a desire to save his soul before he came to live with us;--he shewed himself to be such while he lived with us, by attending the means of Grace diligently, and by being tender hearted to the poor, by giving them money and victuals if he had left himself none" (A Narrative 131). (4) Marrant attended to his worldly duties as a Christian with the vigor of a saint, but he also saw the opportunity to save his soul within the tumultuous and controversial congregation of London's Spa Fields Chapel.

Long the center of turmoil, Spa Fields Chapel began as an amusement house called Pantheon, where gentlemen and prostitutes would assemble on Sundays for drinking and other activities. But by 1776 the proprietor had gone bankrupt, and the building been appropriated and converted into a dissenting chapel in 1777. However, through legal maneuverings, the Countess managed to acquire the building, making it one of her personal chapels, which she hoped optimistically to transform into an Anglican congregation under her protection. She spent years trying to get it recognized by the Church of England, but legitimate, non-dissenting ministers would have nothing to do with her church, disdaining both her brand of Calvinist Methodism and the aspiring students who attended her Trevecca College. Antipathetic toward Methodist "enthusiasm," no established religious authorities would ordain her students, proclaiming them under-prepared for the ministry. The Countess appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury for the ordination of her students, but he replied in the negative, remarking that it was his opinion that Trevecca could not "send forth very able or judicious Divines" (Schlenther 145).

Forced either to abandon her efforts to spread Methodism and reform the Anglican Church from within or to register Spa Fields as a dissenting Church, the Countess chose the latter. She did so on January 12, 1782. A year later, on March 9, 1783, the Countess authorized her only two ministers to ordain six Trevecca students as ministers, thus marking a key moment of separation between her Methodist Connection and the Anglican Church (Schlenther 152). Non-dissenting ministers of her chapels in Bath and abroad abandoned her en masse, fearing that her patronage of a dissenting congregation would cause ecclesiastical authorities to construe them as dissenters as well. The separation of the Methodist movement from the Church of England in 1782, and the turmoil that resulted from the event, also marked the year that John Marrant arrived in London.

Fresh from military campaigns with the British Navy, Marrant was no stranger to strife and adversity. Nevertheless, why he would willingly choose a congregation and a movement so torn by both internal and external grief is uncertain. Perhaps he felt a sense of duty to the Connection that had supported George Whitefield, the minister who had guided him to salvation one evening in South Carolina when he was a 14-year-old youth. Or perhaps because it was on the outskirts of London where he probably lived with his employer, the chapel was conveniently located. Most likely, though, Marrant's decision to join the Spa Fields Chapel was a combination of loyalty, location, and the realization that the church was in dire straights and in need of ministers that could, and would, preach a doctrine consistent with the beliefs of the Countess who supported her clergy. "I used to exercise my gifts on a Monday evening in prayer and exhortation," says Marrant about his activities at Spa Fields, "and was approved of" by the clergy there (A Narrative 126). In his spare time, Marrant was allowed to participate in the Methodist ministry at Spa Fields, where his dedication and talents were, no doubt, recognized as invaluable to the movement. The Huntingdon Connection was sorely in need of manpower and missionaries who could spread Huntingdonian influence abroad.

Marrant and the Huntingdon Connection

Marrant stepped off a British Naval vessel, wounded and ailing, after years of hard living aboard war ships fighting colonial dissidents and other enemies of the British crown. He was now a stranger in a foreign land, where he was fortunate enough to have acquired work with a cotton merchant, but was spiritually as well as physically ailing for abandoning a ministry that had begun with Native peoples and slaves of the American continent: "I continued in his majesty's service six years and eleven months, and with shame confess, that a lamentable stupor crept over all my spiritual vivacity, life and vigor; I got cold and dead" (A Narrative 125-26). As Olaudah Equiano would later write in his autobiography, harsh life aboard sailing vessels was not conducive to a spiritual life. (5) Marrant's fall is rendered by another witness of his ordination, Samuel Whitchurch, who quotes Marrant's experiences in verse:
 On board the warlike vessel now confin'd,
 Lo! new distresses mortify my mind ...
 ... my faithless heart,
 Oppress'd by ills, and griefs most pungent
 Forgot it's Lord, and doubt, and fell
 And unbelief found entrance there!
 (lines 251-60)

Marrant's fall from grace is cited in Whitchurch's poem as part of the young minister's testimony. At the British mainland, Marrant renewed his "desire to save his soul" and embarked on a process of repentance that included service to Londoners even poorer and hungrier than he was.

Marrant's account of his evolving life of sin, regeneration, strife, spiritual neglect, repentance, and renewal is a significant aspect of his Narrative, which conforms to the Methodist interpretation of the Christian life in progress. Although the Methodist doctrine of immediate conversion opposed traditional Calvinist Puritan ideals, the Countess of Huntingdon contended that after immediate conversion, cycles of crisis would test the converted Christian. The Countess "expected--she demanded--that the true Christian would by definition have to experience a crisis of faith that would perforce prove a never-ceasing series of crises" (Schlenther 2). The Countess's "cycle of crisis" doctrine preserved connection to authorized Anglicanism in that it allowed for immediate conversion without neglecting the duty of Christians to maintain salvation through their outward lives. A tumultuous life like Marrant's could find reason and direction based on this vision of Christianity featuring crisis, strife, and perseverance as central evidence of one's selection.

In fact, the direction of Marrant's life apparently became clearer as he became more involved with the Spa Fields clergy and congregation. Noting their great need for ordained ministers, he sought to help fill that need: "During this time," he said, "I saw my call to the ministry fuller and clearer; had a feeling of concern for the salvation of my [American] countrymen ... for my kinsmen according to the flesh" (A Narrative 126). Although it is arguable that Marrant has suffered scholarly neglect for not writing more about slavery, his Narrative articulates a special bond between the African peoples on the American continent and himself, and he took steps to position himself to minister to their spiritual and physical needs (Shuffelton 105-06). (6)

Taking advantage of the Countess's need for ministers and her passion for overseas missions, Marrant reportedly sent a letter to his brother in Nova Scotia, who replied, "he prayed that some ministers would come and preach to them" (A Narrative 126-27). Even without the training usually afforded an Anglican or Puritan minister, with education in Latin, ecclesiastical histories, and religious rhetoric, Marrant nevertheless proved as qualified for ordination as the other seven accounted students of the Countess's Trevecca College ordained that day. The Countess's Trevecca students often only received a few months' training before being thrust into the ministry. With Marrant's capacity to minister to Native Americans in their own language and his successful christianizing of slaves, he stood superior to his younger, less experienced evangelical English.

Peter H. Wood has cogently argued that Marrant felt anxious to accomplish as a Methodist what many New Light Puritans sought to do during the Great Awakening--to bring a "Protestantism which stressed emotional preaching over learned discourse, spontaneous response over rote learning" to the North American frontier where thousands of suffering Black Loyalists could experience a rejuvenating and meaningful spirituality (5). Indeed, many of Marrant's Loyalist brethren were liberated slaves looking for help in building a new, free society. All of them needed common principles by which to survive and organize in hostile circumstances. For Marrant, preaching this particular Protestantism was an opportunity to restore hope to those betrayed by both the American Revolution and the British government.

As Marrant set sail from the Nova Scotia port for Boston on a cold winter morning in 1788, perhaps he reflected on the trouble it took to build and support his mission, and all of the adversity it continued to face. His own Narrative had gone through ten printings in 1785, the very first year in which it was published (A Narrative 128). So, by that December, when he began preaching to the Loyalist Blacks in Nova Scotia, a large reading public was becoming acquainted with the account of Marrant as a precocious youth and itinerant minister. The popularity of the Narrative was widespread. Nevertheless, the Huntingdon Connection, as it were, withdrew its financial and political support from his Gospel work. Without them, Marrant could not foster strength and independence amongst a congregation who knew betrayal intimately. Injustice to blacks emerges as a clear theme of Marrant's Journal, which reveals great frustration at the Huntingdon Connection's indifference to the new congregations forming his ministry. It seems safe to speculate that, early in 1788, Marrant read the newly forming American Republic, ironically his former military adversary, as a site of welcome for him: After all, at least one successful, independent Black institution, Prince Hall's Masonic African Lodge 459, suggested an appropriate place for his ministerial efforts.

Prior to his ordination, Marrant had to prove his knowledge of and commitment to the doctrines of the Huntingdon Methodists. His ordination sermon illustrates his acceptance of the principles of Methodism, and thereby of the principles of the Countess of Huntingdon. His faithfulness enabled him to take to his brother and other Loyalist Blacks a set of Christian principles by which to live. Apparently without any obsequiousness, he departed from his Methodist brethren humbly, to create a Zion that fit the particular needs of a New World African congregation (A Narrative 127).

The Americans had abandoned the concept of a covenanted community for New Light theology and Universal Republicanism (Saillant 6). However, Universal Republicanism was hardly egalitarian. Its members treated African Americans like the Dissenters of a slightly earlier era, as outsiders with peculiar and parochial, not "universal," interests. Ironically, like the Hebrews of exodus, the Black immigrants in Nova Scotia seemed divinely called to suffer. Marrant therefore applied the New Light theology he learned from his Huntingdon Connections for the Black Nova Scotia population. He gave them a Biblical reference by which they could contextualize and endure their suffering as well as develop principles of living while building a community that could resist repression and reap the benefits of God's eventual salvation. This community could also restore balance to the world by counterbalancing their suffering with their founding of Zion (Saillant 6-7).

Ministry to Slaves

During his ordination sermon, chronicled by at least two amanuenses, Marrant related his previous experiences with preaching to African slaves. The beginning of Marrant's ministry to Blacks is best told through his popular Narrative of 1785, and elucidates his developing theological views and careful handling of the politically sensitive issue of slavery, an issue that also interested the slave-owning Countess.

The slave ministry section of the Narrative is one that surveys Marrant's life just prior to his service in the British Navy. Soon after Marrant's religious conversion, he worked as a carpenter on a Charleston plantation, where he ministered to slaves until the owners took offense. Marrant's narrator reports that the slaves on the plantation were whipped for Christian practice, but continued to worship, and resisted their masters' coercion by meeting "at midnight in different corners of the woods that were about the plantation" (A Narrative 124). Marrant's evangelical teaching among slaves on the Jenkins plantation in Charleston unsettled one of the plantation owners. Mrs. Jenkins was so disturbed that she demanded that her husband not only punish their slaves but also whip Marrant. Jenkins's own ambivalence about the ministry among blacks compelled his observation to Marrant that the slaves on his plantation who had received instruction seemed to do their work better than before.

This remark exposes an incompatibility between the de-socializing conditions of slavery and Christian principles. Still, Marrant's Christian message was a socializing doctrine, and the Jenkins plantation was one of the first sites at which Marrant preached in his youthful career. There he articulated to a Black congregation the principles and philosophies by which members could direct their lives despite extraordinarily violent and oppressive conditions. Like the rest of Marrant's Narrative, this section is neither pro-slavery nor antislavery. However, it does illuminate what for Marrant constituted proper knowledge.

The articulation of Marrant's theology forms a central goal of the Narrative. Thus, to study it primarily as a captivity narrative is to discount its emphasis on the importance of teaching proper Christian knowledge. Overemphasis on the captivity theme undermines the actual function of the text as it operated as a Christian document. Moreover, this autobiography justifies Marrant's participation in evangelical ministries. Making such a justification was a crucial step in his acceptance into the Methodist Connection of the Countess of Huntingdon from which he would receive the vital financial support for his transatlantic ministry.

Marrant's understanding of Christian doctrine was learned and thorough. He connected Christianity to society, and evidently read in Christianity an organizing force that could oppose tyranny. However, he also understood that casting himself or his ministry as subversive would put at risk all support from his benefactors in England. The Jenkins Plantation scene shows Marrant purposefully negotiating the tensions between evangelical Christianity and slavery. It reveals his knowledge and skill in dealing with the spiritual and secular problems of Huntingdonian Methodism, and it establishes him as an authority by which Christianity could be propagated to Black people abroad. The British government already suspected Methodism as conducive to criticizing it or even to inciting riotous behavior, and Marrant knew the Countess shunned further scrutiny due to suspicions roused by disapproving ministers. The Countess's slave-owning seems further to have silenced the narrator of Marrant's Narrative.

The autobiographical account of Marrant's evangelism at the Jenkins plantation launches the minister's relation to the capacity of spiritual narrative to lobby for Black Christians. Christianity provided slaves with a shared sense of community grounded in history. Slaveholders' interference, however, obstructed slaves' Christian training. Marrant's autobiography uses the Jenkins plantation episode to illustrate that incomplete religious training coupled with the immoral deprivation of Christian ideals from slaves provokes subversion and disobedience in slaves: Precisely the sort of agitation that slaveholders feared. However, while Marrant insinuates the power of Christian teaching to undermine an oppressive slave system, he tactfully attributes that subversive activity to the incomplete religious training of the slaves, making his services as a teacher of slaves especially important. In fact, when Jenkins argues that Christian teaching will "ruin" his slaves as servants, Marrant neither denies the charge nor compromises on his principles, but instead cites doctrine regarding the imperative duty of Christians to propagate the gospel wherever there is a soul in need of salvation: To neglect this responsibility is to affront God:
 I asked him whether he did not think
 they had Souls to be saved? He
 answered yes. I asked him whether he
 thought they were in the way to save
 their Souls whilst they were ignorant of
 that God who made and preserved
 them. He made me no answer to that. I
 told him that the blood of those poor
 Negroes which he had spilt that morning
 would be required by God at his
 hands. He then left me. (A Narrative 124)

Thus, Marrant's Narrative illustrates the narrator's thorough knowledge of theological precepts, of doctrinal arguments for and against preaching to slaves, and he uses that knowledge to perpetuate his ministry ironically authorized by rationales definitively established by English Church officials.

Certainly Marrant would not have been ordained a minister by the Huntingdon Connection of Methodists clerics in 1785 had he not previously acquired the firm grasp of the doctrine of Christian duty articulated in the Narrative. The argument presented here on the necessity of spreading the gospel to slaves appears much earlier in Anglican documents such as the 1727 publication of Two Letters of the Lord Bishop of London. In the two letters, one sent to the plantation owners in the North American colonies and West Indies and the other to Anglican missionaries of the regions, the Lord Bishop implores Christians to assist the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in its missionary efforts by giving serious attention to the teaching of scripture to slaves. The Lord Bishop expresses feelings that counter those of the majority of colonial planters: "I am loath to think so hardly of any Christian Master, as to suppose that he can deliberately hinder his Negroes from being instructed in the Christian faith" and that "the supporting and enlarging of that Church, is justly to be esteemed the Common Cause of Christianity, or, in other Words, the general Concern of Christians all the World over" (Gibson 8, 18). He goes on to say to masters who believe Christianity will make slaves ungovernable that, "in Truth, one great Reason why Severity is at all necessary to maintain Government, is the Want of Religion in those who are to be governed," thus further propagating the idea that slavery has a domesticating effect on slaves rather than rendering them defiant or insubordinate (24).

Conversely, Marrant invokes instead the duties of the Christian to prepare souls for salvation, as the Lord Bishop had almost 60 years previously: "By these Means, you will open their Hearts to Instruction, and prepare them to receive the Truths of the Gospel; to which if you add a pious Endeavour and Concern to see them duly instructed, you may become the Instrument of saving many Souls. Failing in this duty," Marrant tacitly argues, "could well leave the slave master accountable for the 'spilt' blood of slaves punished for pursuing a Christian education" (27).

Marrant thereby links a question often asked by slave owners--why Christianize slaves ?--to their personal salvation, a well-developed Anglican doctrine that establishes his own authority as missionary and evangelical. The adoption of this rationale in the Narrative also allows Marrant to avoid ideals that operate in explicit support of slavery. Instead, his efforts are represented as mainly spiritual and without regard for the mundane concerns of plantation government, even though the doctrine intersects with matters of social responsibility. The explicit arguments for the domesticating nature of Christianity come from the mouth of the plantation master who "could not help acknowledging, that they did their tasks sooner than the others who were not instructed, and thereby had time after their tasks were done, to keep their own fields in better order than the others, who used to employ the Sabbath for that purpose ..." (A Narrative 124). One should note that these observations come from the master who does not question why slaves who work so diligently after instruction do so. Instead, Marrant's Narrative inscribes the rationales for instruction derived from Pauline doctrines articulated by evangelical writers and clerics like Cotton Mather in his 1706 defense of slavery in the Massachusetts Bay colonies, The Negro Christianized, and Thomas Coke's 1738 arguments for the Christianization of slaves in the West Indies in A Journal of the Rev. Dr. Coke's Visit to Jamaica. Marrant puts them in the mouth of the plantation owner, the one for whom efficiency and plantation government would theoretically be most important.

The section of the Narrative that chronicles Marrant's ministry to the slaves in South Carolina comes after Marrant's own story of conversion and Indian captivity and is structured to address the issue of slavery's relationship to Christianity. Still, it is difficult to determine whether the narrative of his evangelical work operated in an anti-slavery capacity because of the apparently ambiguous messages presented therein. On the one hand, Marrant shows the brutality of slavery and the ignorance, particularly about God, that it fosters. On the other hand, the master acknowledges that those slaves who did study under Marrant were better workers. Ultimately, the plantation owner's wife sickens and dies--thus, Marrant declares her divinely punished--for trying to deny slaves time for Christian practice (A Narrative 124), while the ambivalent Jenkins himself converts and eventually improves the condition of his slaves, allowing them to worship freely, but never going so far as to free them.

It was never a priority for the Countess to Christianize her own or anyone else's slaves. She was very involved with the ministers and churches under her sphere of influence, and paid very close attention to their handling of doctrine and organizational matters. Marrant would have been the subject of special scrutiny because of the Countess's own slaveholding and her previous miscalculations concerning another Black minister she sent to her Bethesda plantation 11 years previously, in 1774.

On the one occasion that she did attempt to deflect criticism of her involvement with slavery, the Countess sent an African minister named David Margate to her Bethesda plantation to minister to the slaves. This move was calculated to give her the appearance of maintaining her duty to spread the gospel and save the souls of her slaves within a religious and political climate that was increasingly questioning the justice of the institution. The Countess's decision was also theologically grounded in the proposition that Christianity was compatible with slavery under a predestinarian doctrine. Unlike the Wesleyan Methodists, who contended that slavery denied slaves' access to salvation by preventing their exercise of free will, the Countess's strict predestination doctrine conveniently bypassed personal will as a condition of Christian salvation, so long as slaves had proper instruction and baptism. Sending a minister to Christianize her slaves was a defiant act against the Wesleyan repudiation of slavery, and it undermined, in her estimation, the already beleaguered Methodist movement within the Anglican Church. David Margate was to be the means by which the Countess's messages would be delivered and her slaves saved and tutored (Schlenther 90-91).

Unfortunately for her designs, Margate ended up greatly distressing the Countess and the Bethesda communities when he declared himself a new Moses who would lead his people out of bondage. He openly encouraged rebellion and insurrection among the slaves, and eventually provoked white South Carolina residents to form a lynch party to kill him. However, he was summarily secreted away in a ship bound for England before the mob could find him (91).

There can be little doubt that the Countess would want to avoid any more embarrassing and potentially costly mistakes like that Margate proved to be. Marrant's dedication and theology, therefore, had to be within the proper bounds of the Countess's ideological priorities. Marrant's ordination sermon, which became the Narrative, verified that he could be trusted not to cause the kind of trouble that Margate had in Bethesda.

Although this ordination sermon is circumscribed by the editing priorities of the amanuensis, the Narrative's address of slavery and its inherent brutality participates in a long tradition of conversations and sermons arguing for the mitigating effect of Christianity on the condition of slaves. Little is overtly said about Marrant's personal evaluations of slavery other than he critiqued its diminution of slaves' spiritual and religious capacity. The Jenkins plantation section, nonetheless, implicitly castigates the slave system by juxtaposing the relative privileges of the law enjoyed by a free Black person to the constraints on a slave. Marrant's free status shielded him from abuse by Jenkins, who would have been subject to legal recrimination had he abused his hired carpenter per his wife's demands.

The Narrative of the Lord's Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant never cites as the narrator's goal the undermining of the plantation's operation, nor does either the Narrative or the Journal make overt anti-slavery statements. It has even been speculated that Marrant owned a female slave and her two children prior to the Siege of Charleston in 1780 (A Narrative 129). (7) Most importantly, adopting an explicit stand against slavery would have alienated Marrant from the Methodist Connection whose authorization and support he sorely needed. Establishing a belief system that permitted bondage among Christians would have been consistent with the doctrinal and political leanings of the Huntingdon Methodist Connection. Even Marrant's original spiritual mentor and evangelical colleague, George Whitefield, who proclaimed to the young convert, "PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD, O ISRAEL," and "JESUS CHRIST HAS GOT THEE AT LAST," owned the slaves who worked his Georgia orphanage. Indeed, Whitefield willed about 50 slaves to the Countess upon his death (Schlenther 91). Whitefield labored for a time over the matter of slavery, but unlike the Wesleyans who rejected slavery outright as anti-Christian, he relented to the various pressures he felt from powerful members of his colonial congregations as well as from the Countess. Given that Marrant's Narrative originated as the ordination sermon he delivered in a Huntingdonian chapel, it avoids opposing the very order of evangelicals he sought to join.

Huntingdonians supported a moderate and accommodating ideology of amelioration. When Marrant states in his narrative that he goes with his brother the "house-carpenter" to "repair a plantation belonging to Mr. Jenkins," he references both spiritual healing and structural restoration. The apparently paternalistic relationship that Marrant formed with Jenkins's slaves seemed to have had a powerful effect on them. For example, Marrant's presence on the plantation as a free Black minister inspires their clandestine midnight worship. Forbidden by Jenkins to practice the Christianity that Marrant has brought to them, the small "society" of enslaved worshippers continue worshipping, hiding away in secret locations called "hush-harbors" (Slave Religion 212-19). (8) Thus, they ironically fulfill Jenkins's fear that Christianity would "ruin" them.

Marrant's ministry to slaves in the Narrative chronicles the radical acts of a prophet and a leader of "countrymen." It veils a sinister threat: If the religious education of slaves is not monitored, they will seek it themselves, and this emancipatory move on their part threatens insubordination, insurrection, potentially the very dismantling of the institution of slavery. The best, or perhaps even the only, alternative is to teach them the proper forms of the religion. And who better to perform such missionary works than men like John Marrant, a Black man with a "proper" knowledge of the gospels?

"Proper Knowledge"

Particularly important in the matter of proper Methodist instruction and practice is Marrant's brief but prideful approval of "one of the Negro boys" who had made great progress in the "exercise in extemporary prayer." This boy had progressed from the memorized prayers and catechisms to direct extemporaneous speaking. Although a short and obscure passage from the text, it highlights one of the conventions of Black sermonizing and oratory that would later become recognized as a major part of Black evangelicalism that grew out of the syncretism between African oral tradition and Methodist principles of direct inspiration over scholastic learnedness. This highly valued aspect of Black religious speaking often led to conflicts between educated Black ministers, on the one hand, and the more "vernacular," independent Black ministers, on the other hand (Woodson 125-29, 150-51). For while Marrant argued for proper, Calvinistic interpretations and observance of Scripture, he departed from traditional European norms by privileging the extemporaneous sermon over the scripted delivery.

Marrant saw the limits of a strictly literate, scholastic, formal evangelicalism, particularly among the poorly educated classes and Indians, such as he had already encountered early in his career as an evangelist, and would continue to be most involved with throughout his ministry on the American continent. Marrant disdained Christian teaching that hindered a clear knowledge of direct scriptural learning and that limited particular interpretations to an educated elite rather than to each individual. Marrant's beliefs would increasingly lead him back to original Calvinist principles of simplicity of service extended to direct interpretation of the Gospels and the expressions of an experiential religion, something that would put him at odds with other Calvinist sects more concerned with maintaining hierarchy and class distinctions (Horton and Edwards 29-48).

His use of a plain, vernacular ministry, one unrestrained by scholasticism, was a point of agreement, however, between himself and the priorities of the Countess whose Trevecca students were often encouraged to rush from their studies in order to preach and engage directly in missionary activities as soon as possible: "Come, come ... you are only going to a few simple souls: [T]ell them concerning Jesus Christ, and they will be satisfied" (Schlenther 146). The less dogmatic and complicated theologies that "stressed an experiential conversion of the heart rather than an intellectual or catechetical religion" allowed many African peoples in America to identify with a synchronous set of beliefs more familiar to their traditional beliefs and practices (MacRoberts 192). Marrant knew of the origins and spiritual needs of his "countrymen," and continued throughout his career to develop as a minister who could motivate conversion through a distinct and powerful expressiveness as well as through logic.

Some scholars mistakenly assume that Marrant was illiterate, or semiliterate, even though it is clear that he had an aptitude for language and music, in addition to his meticulous note taking as illustrated by his Journal. His professed years of formal education aside, Marrant seems to have retained the black vernacular of his South Carolina upbringing, a patois that the amanuensis of his Narrative thought necessary to alter before print: "I have always preserved Mr. Marrant's ideas, tho' I could not his language; no more alterations, however, have been made than were thought necessary" (A Narrative 111). Marrant's vernacular probably appealed to members of his congregations who shared it. Negotiating between established doctrine and "revealed" interpretations of the Bible, unrestrained by scholasticism and dogma, Marrant's sermons might have held an organic quality amenable to the black folk patterns and cultural expressions of his primary audience (Raboteau 132-50).

In spite of his three years of formal academic preparation for the ministry, Marrant shared the Countess's doctrinal disdain for scholasticism; thus, he rejected publications that he thought diluted Christ's message and divided Christians. Published theological treatises by "learned men" led to schisms like those dividing the Wesleyan Methodists from the Huntingdonians, the Old Calvinists from the New Lights. During his evangelical mission in Nova Scotia, Marrant often conflicted with Wesleyan ministers. On one occasion, in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, a New Light congregation forbade him from preaching for them ever again, his sermon so offended their sense of doctrine.

Separating himself even more from the mainstream Christian practices of the time, Marrant eventually began to preach against the use of formalized doctrine published by more scholastic theologians. In the June 1789 Festival of St. John sermon to Boston's Masonic African Lodge, Marrant argues,
 Unhappily, too many Christians, so
 called, take their religion not from the
 declaration of Christ and his apostles,
 but from the writings of those they
 esteem learned.--But, I am to say, it is
 from the New-Testament only, not
 from any books whatsoever, however
 piously wrote, that we ought to seek
 what is the essence of Christ's religion
 ... free from any human mixtures. (A
 Sermon 24)

Marrant is clearly disdainful of "learned," scholastic Christianity, and he suggests individuals--independent of traditional hierarchical authorities--are capable of inspired readings of the Scriptures, and this practice is the center of Christian theology and worship. Most Congregational Christians, particularly the ministers of established churches in a cosmopolitan community like Boston, would have shunned such ideas because they undermined the authority that they had spent so much time and effort in school attaining. This direct attack rejects established doctrines. It implies that common folk could glean the meaning of Scripture, independent of established church authorities. By the time Marrant began to advocate this line of thinking, he was already at odds with his Huntingdon Connection for reasons he did not know and was unable to discover definitively. But while spontaneity and field preaching were established Methodist practice, ideas undermining authority were not. They were in line, though, with Marrant's individual development as an independent evangelical, one whose connections to English patronage had taken a back seat to his commitments to North American African societies and the needs of his Black congregations. Even though he arrived back in England in March of 1790 to find answers concerning his lack of support by his supposed patrons, by 1789 John Marrant had clearly established a new set of priorities with a matching theology.

Marrant's Narrative was not designed to represent the individualized expression and deep reflection of its subject (Andrews 18-19). The Narrative presents a theological position by example through a firsthand account of an evangelical driven to minister to the enslaved population of America. The section on field preaching to slaves is undeniably didactic. Marrant disseminates a lesson that will authorize him as a Methodist minister to bring into existence "societies" that comprise Black people living throughout the Atlantic world. But by 1789, his allegiances would change, and his discontent with the Huntingdon Connection of Methodists found voice in his second published autobiography.

John Marrant's 1791 Journal is the antithesis of his 1785 Narrative. Whereas the Narrative articulates his knowledge and acceptance of Huntingdonian Methodism, his Journal vindicates his character and evangelical work from the charges of dishonesty and corruption leveled against him by members of the Connection. It defines the points of schism between Marrant and the Connection's ministers. It is a document that both vindicates Marrant's character to the public and announces his independence as a person and evangelical. Whereas the Narrative was published by an amanuensis to model Christian conversion and a pious life, Marrant wrote the Journal himself specifically to salvage his professional reputation.

The Journal opens with Marrant's defense: "The following Extracts will shew my readers the impropriety of that report which prevailed so much after I left this country" (A Journal A2). After three years in Nova Scotia advancing a strict predestination Calvinist Methodist doctrine, in 1790 Marrant returned to England, at great expense to himself, to discover he had been charged with mishandling Huntingdonian money and that he "was not permitted to speak" for himself and "so remained to the present, without any assistance, or even a Christian word out of them" (A Journal v). The preface he wrote for his published journal reveals his frustration and a feeling of betrayal by the Countess, particularly because much of the expense of his own ministry had been borne by himself and unofficial, anonymous sources. Further, he had voluntarily risked life and limb to carry the ministry to the Nova Scotia wilderness, a distinction few others in the Connection then shared with him. None of the seven other new ministers ordained with him at Bath in 1785 had embarked on so risky an adventure, and Marrant wanted his readers to know the depth of his commitment to spreading the Word of God: "And I am certain of this one thing, that there is not a Preacher belonging to the Connection could have suffered more than I have for the Connection, and the glory of God, and for the good of precious souls" (A Journal v).

The journal that Marrant kept details his extraordinary efforts to minister to Nova Scotians. However, prior to Marrant's departure, the financing of his venture would already prove contentious. Before leaving for Nova Scotia, an unnamed patron presented him with 20 pounds, to finance his efforts abroad (A Journal 4). This money he would apply in Nova Scotia to the community that served as his center of operation: It was in desperate need of supplies and farming tools. He spent "twenty-four pounds seven shillings," and "the greater part of that was from the Tabernacle people" (A Journal A2). In fact, accusations by the Huntingdon Connection that he was profligate compelled Marrant to keep a close account of the money allotted to him.

Clearly, the Huntingdon Connection distanced itself early on from Marrant and his mission. Although the Huntingdonian Methodist minister William Aldridge published Marrant's ordination sermon as a narrative, and thus helped to popularize his mission, before Marrant left London, the Connection showed lackluster interest in funding his project. One explanation might lie in Marrant's positive relationship to the church leaders at Tabernacle Chapel, George Whitefield's last church before his death in 1770. Rightly or wrongly, the Countess of Huntingdon came to believe that with Whitefield deceased, the church was aggressively competing with her own congregations. John Marrant's positive relationship to the "Tabernacle people," such that they granted him additional funding for his Nova Scotia ministry, apparently threatened the Countess of Huntingdon's authority over other ministers. Perhaps the threat caused her to reconsider her patronage to Marrant.

Marrant's Narrative and his self-authored Journal demonstrate that the subtly radical black evangelical set out in his ministry to address and encourage social and spiritual equality among Black peoples and British Americans. The factional strife that preoccupied other ministers did not concern him. Instead, he attempted to bridge divisions between and among Methodists and other Christians. Abandoning scholasticism was, in the end, crucial to his efforts to transform Calvinist tradition. His ultimate goal, however, was to develop a Christian ministry and theology that would address the particular social and spiritual circumstances of Black people living in post-revolutionary North America. He deftly deployed his sophisticated knowledge of British and British-American Calvinist tradition to convince slave owners and his own benefactors that such a ministry was both warranted and practical.

Although his knowledge and use of orthodox Calvinism was the means by which he was able to secure initial funding for his ministry, it was a progressive Calvinism he taught to his congregations. The discourse of his ministry is rooted in the discourse of freedom and egalitarianism that the Black revolutionaries and Black Loyalists shared with one another. As a veteran Loyalist who fought in the Revolutionary War, who then returned to North American to preach to Loyalist immigrants and become chaplain of African Lodge 459 in Boston, Marrant reveals a faith that Christian community, particularly among Black people, far outweighed the nationalist and sectarian interests of his day. His Narrative illuminates the roots of Black theology that engaged in progressive social action in both principle and practice. With these progressive religious roots, the principles he promoted would flourish in African American culture and yield fruit in some part of virtually every major religious, and often secular, Black institution developed since.


(1.) Hodges discusses the apparent paradox of Black Loyalist and Black Revolutionaries fighting toward the same goals in Root and Branch 140-60.

(2.) The term "dissenting" here denotes the legal status of churches that did not conform to the doctrines and practices of the Anglican Church of England. Since the Anglican Church at that time was a very influential political institution, dissenting from established doctrine was viewed as a threat to the state, and therefore laws were established to regulate "dissenting" members of the Anglican Church.

(3.) See Gibson 1.

(4.) See Carretta 131 n55. For more on Spa Fields Chapel, see Schlenther.

(5.) See Equiano. Throughout the narrative, there are numerous examples of Equiano contending with the impieties of his fellow sailors.

(6.) Benilde Montgomery discusses how John Marrant's Narrative fell out of literary and historical studies after its 1835 edition in the introduction to "Recapturing John Marrant," in Frank Shuffelton. Here it is argued that because he identifies himself as "black" only twice in the Narrative, his work lacked interest for abolitionists and Protestant nativists.

(7.) Carretta has uncovered records that indicate that a John Marrant of Charleston did own three slaves. What Marrant's relationship to the "slaves" is not known. It is possible that he bought them out of slavery, as was the case many times in which family members bought one another to save them from the institution. However, it is also possible that Marrant was never an anti-slavery advocate, which would have been consistent with the beliefs of his benefactor, the Countess of Huntingdon, however, this contradicts the message of his ministry in Nova Scotia and Boston.

(8.) In addition to Raboteau's Slave Religion, also see Woodson, Aptheker, and Raboteau's African-American Religion, Religion in American Life. These are all foundational histories that address in greater detail the early structures and development of African American religious practices.

Works Cited

Andrews, William L. To Tell a Free Story: The First Century of Afro-American Autobiography, 1760-1865. Chicago: U of Illinois P, 1988.

Aptheker, Herbert. American Negro Slave Revolts. New ed. New York: International P, 1969.

--. Negro Slave Revolts in the United States, 1526-1860. New York: International P, 1939.

Brooks, Joanna. "John Marrant's Journal: Providence and Prophesy in the Eighteenth-Century Black Atlantic." The North Star 3 (1999). <>.

Carretta, Vincent, ed. Unchained Voices: An Anthology of Black Authors in the English-Speaking World of the Eighteenth Century. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1996.

Edwards, Jonathan, and C. C. Goen. The Great-Awakening: A Faithful Narrative. The Distinguishing Marks. Some Thoughts Concerning the Revival, Letters Relating to the Revival Works of Jonathan Edwards. Vol. 4. Ed. Jonathan Edwards. New Haven: Yale UP, 1972.

Equiano, Olaudah. The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings. Ed. Vincent Carretta. New York: Penguin, 1995.

Gibson, Edmund. "The Case of the Methodists Briefly Stated: More Particularly in the Point of Field Preaching." General Evening Post (London) 8-10 May 1744: 1.

Hodges, Graham Russell. The Black Loyalist Directory: African Americans in Exile after the American Revolution. New York: Garland, 1996.

--. Root and Branch: African Americans in New York and East Jersey, 1613-1863. John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1999.

Horton, Rod William and Herbert W. Edwards. Backgrounds of American Literary Thought. 2nd ed. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1967.

MacRoberts, Iain. "The Black Roots of Pentecostalism." Down by the Riverside: Readings in African American Religion, Race, and Ethnicity. Ed. Larry G. Murphy. New York: New York UP, 2000. 189-202.

Marrant, John. A Journal of the Rev. John Marrant, From August the 18th, 1785, to the 16th of March, 1790. To Which Are Added, Two Sermons.... London: Sold by J. Taylor and Co. at the Royal Exchange; and Mr. Marrant, No. 2 Black Horse Court, in Aldersgate-Street, 1790.

--. A Narrative of the Lord's Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, A Black. Carretta 110-33.

--. A Sermon Preached on the 24th Day of June, 1789 [Microform] Being the Festival of St. John the Baptist, at the Request of the Right Worshipful the Grand Master Prince Hall, and the Rest of the African Lodge of the Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons in Boston. Boston: Printed and sold at the Bible and Heart, 1789.

Raboteau, Albert J. African-American Religion. New York: Oxford UP, 1999.

--. Slave Religion: The "Invisible Institution" in the Antebellum South. New York: Oxford UP, 1978.

Saillant, John. "Wipe Away All Tears from Their Eyes': John Marrant's Theology in the Black Atlantic, 1785-1808." Journal of Millennial Studies 1.2 (1999). <>.

Schlenther, Boyd Stanley. Queen of the Methodists: The Countess of Huntingdon and the Eighteenth-Century Crisis of Faith and Society. Bishop Auckland, Durham: Durham Academic P, 1997.

Shuffelton, Frank. A Mixed Race: Ethnicity in Early America. New York: Oxford UP, 1993.

Whitchurch, S. The Negro Convert, a Poem [Microform] Being the Substance of the Experience of Mr. John Marrant a Negro, as Related by Himself, Previous to His Ordination, at the Countess of Huntingdon's Chapel, in Bath, on Sunday the 15th of May, 1785, Together with a Concise Account of the Most Remarkable Events in His Very Singular Life. Bath: S. Hazard.

Wood, Peter H. "'Jesus Christ Has Got Thee at Last': Afro-American Conversion as a Forgotten Chapter in Eighteenth-Century Southern Intellectual History." The Bulletin 3.3 (1979): 1-7.

Woodson, Carter Godwin. The History of the Negro Church. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: Associated P, 1945.

Cedrick May is an Assistant Professor of African American literature in the English Department at Auburn University. He is currently completing a book manuscript on Black evangelism and resistance in British North America. He would like to thank Carla Mulford and Iyunolu Osagie for commenting on drafts of the article.
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