Who Am I?
I was born in 1725, and I died 1807. The only
godly influence in my life, as far back as I can remember, was my mother, whom I had for only
When she left my life through death, I was
virtually an orphan. My father remarried, sent me to a strict military school, where the severity
of discipline almost broke my back. I couldn't stand it any longer, and I left in rebellion at the
age of ten.
One year later, deciding that I would never
enter formal education again, I became a seaman apprentice, hoping somehow to step into my
father's trade and learn at least the ability to skillfully navigate a ship.
By and by, through a process of time, I slowly
gave myself over to the devil. And I determined that I would sin to my fill without
restraint, now that the righteous lamp of my life had gone out.
I did that until my days in the military service, where again discipline
worked hard against me, but I further rebelled.
My spirit would not break, and I became
increasingly more and more a rebel. Because of a number of things that I disagreed with
in the military, I finally deserted, only to be captured like a common criminal and beaten
publicly several times.
After enduring the punishment, I again
fled. I entertained thoughts of suicide on my way to Africa, deciding that would be the place I could
get farthest from anyone that knew me. And again I made a pact with the devil to live for him.
Somehow, through a process of events, I got in touch with a Portuguese slave trader, and I lived
in his home. His wife, who was brimming with hostility, took a lot out on me. She beat me, and
I ate like a dog on the floor of the home. If I refused to do that, she would hip me with a lash.
I fled penniless, owning only the clothes on
my back, to the shoreline of Africa where I built a fire, hoping to attract a ship that was passing by.
The skipper thought that I had gold or slaves or ivory to sell and was surprised because I was a
skilled navigator. And it was there that I virtually lived for a long period of time. It was a slave ship.
I went through all sorts of narrow escapes with death only a hairbreadth away on a number of
One time I opened some crates of rum and got
everybody on the crew drunk. The skipper, incensed with my actions, beat me, threw me
down below, and I lived on stale bread and sour vegetables for an unendurable amount of time.
He brought me above to beat me again, and I fell overboard.
Because I couldn't swim, he harpooned me
to get me back on the ship. And I lived with the scar in my side, big enough for me to put my fist
into, until the day of my death. On board, I was inflamed with fever. I was enraged with the
humiliation. A storm broke out, and I wound up again in the hold of the ship, down among the
pumps. To keep the ship afloat, I worked along as a servant of the slaves. There, bruised and
confused, bleeding, diseased, I was the epitome of the degenerate man. I remembered the words
of my mother. I cried out to God, the only way I knew, calling upon His grace and His mercy to
deliver me. The only glimmer of light I would find was in a crack in the ship in the floor above me, and I
looked up to it and screamed for help. God heard me.
Thirty-one years passed, I married a childhood
sweetheart. I entered the ministry. In every place that I served, rooms had to be added to the building
to handle the crowds that came to hear the gospel that was presented and the story of God's grace in
My tombstone above my head reads: Born 1725,
died 1807. A clerk, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was by the rich mercy
of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith
he once long labored to destroy.
I decided before my death to put my life's story
in verse. And that verse has become a hymn.
To God be the glory................ and may
the Lord bless the writing and the reading of these words!