It’s 1753 and our friend Olaudah Equiano is still a happy child in Africa. We’re in West Hartford, Connecticut, North American colonies. Jonathan Edwards is finishing his course, the free sons of Columbia are waxing warm against the Crown, and slavery and racism cast their shadow over much of American life. This was Lemuel Haynes’ world. He was born strategically in time, wedged as it were between these influences, pressed by them into a diamond-tipped iron stylus, and destined to inscribe HOLY TO THE LORD on the souls of men.
As to the spec sheets, Lemuel Haynes was a profoundly gifted preacher with wits of steel. He was the first African American pastor to be ordained by a North American denomination and was probably the first to pastor an all-white congregation. He was an American Revolutionary, Abolitionist, Calvinist, Puritan, and Federalist.
He was the Black Republican long before Nas and Jay-Z put their first rhymes together. He was the ebony Puritan centuries before the modern resurgence of Reformed Theology among urban hip hop heads. The woke memes your Facebook friends post have never mentioned him, and yet he was 200 years ahead of his time. He refuses to play nice with our neat little modern categories of race, politics, and religion. He was the American Black Puritan. He bled red, white, and blue and fought for an America to come. Take up and read for yourself and learn the true history and—would to God, were it possible even now—future of this nation.
But above all, Lemuel Haynes took up the sword of God’s word and swung it valiantly for the kingdom of Christ. He lands squarely on the right side of history. God’s mightiest servants all seem to have their glaring faults, and yet, we confess the struggle to find any scandal whatsoever in his life, other than the scandal his very existence was and still is to America’s hypocritical history. Soon, very soon, Lemuel Haynes will have his vindication from God. Will you join the rowdiest black preacher America has yet produced on the side of Christ? For his kingdom is swift in coming. He will right every wrong and bring every act into judgment.
“It was reliance on the merits of the Saviour that supported me. Had I a thousand souls, I would venture them on him.” –Lemuel Haynes