Christ Sold Here, 1 Samuel 18:9

Lemuel Haynes
Congregational Rutland, Vermont 1808
Congregational Library and Archives


John Saillant, Western Michigan University

Lemuel Haynes (1753–1833) spent his childhood in Granville, Massachusetts, in the 1750s, then trained as a Minute Man in the 1770s and served in the war in 1775 and 1776. He was licensed to preach in 1780 and ordained in 1785. Mixed race but usually described as black in his lifetime, Haynes was one of the state's citizens who commented on elements of Revolutionary America and the early republic of national or international importance: the Reformation heritage, the American Revolution, republicanism, the slave trade, and slavery. However, Haynes spent most of his life in New England agricultural towns. His life's work was in small towns in the provision of the sacraments and the offices of Congregational churches. His first public sermons were delivered in Granville's First Church of Christ. 1 A remarkable set of circumstances revolving around Haynes and occurring from about 1810 to 1845 eventuated in the preservation of a small collection of manuscripts unique in American history: sermon notes hand written by a black minister around 1800. Haynes's notes for one sermon are transcribed here. This introduction to the sermon seeks to reconstruct the local circumstances in which they were perceived as valuable enough to preserve.

One way to understand the value Haynes's manuscripts held in Granville is to commence with the commemorations that were made soon after his death in 1833. It was the minister of the First Church, Timothy Mather Cooley (1772–1859), who preserved the black man's papers. For the Granville Jubilee of 1845, which marked fifty years of his pastorship, Cooley, in an "historical sermon," remembered Haynes's childhood, conversion, and early sermonizing:
Rev. Lemuel Haynes, when abandoned by his natural, or rather unnatural mother, found a home and a mother's care in this place. He was bound out as a servant, at the age of five months, and at the age of twenty-seven, in spite of all the prejudices of color and cast, he occupied a pulpit in this place, with universal approbation. The apple tree is still standing, where the Saviour found him and made him free. The story of the Saturday evening sermon, and the chimney corner education of Lemuel Haynes is worthy of being told on the banks of the Senegal, in the days of the millenium. 2

Haynes was a symbol of a faithful, peaceful time in Granville's history, a time when Puritanism reigned unchallenged. Haynes's own comments on another local minister, Jedediah Smith (1756–1776 in pulpit), were recalled during the jubilee. As the protégé of Haynes's master and surrogate father, Deacon Rose, Smith was more or less Haynes's surrogate uncle. Smith had initially conformed to orthodox Christianity (Edwardsean theology and church practices) but had slid into the halfway covenant (the "Stoddardean principle"). In the 1770s, "the doors of the church were flung open, and all persons, 'outwardly clean and doctrinally taught,' were admitted to the Lord's supper without the pretence of piety."

In 1845 church members recalled Smith's tenure as the time when "glory . . . departed." The "pure principles" of the church had been "abandoned." The congregation's "best members," Cooley wrote, "'hung their harps upon the willows, and wept when they remembered Zion.'" Church life became "tumultuous and unblessed." After several years of acrimony and the withdrawal of some of the orthodox into a separate church, Smith left Granville in 1776—the very year in which Haynes was one of the young Granville men serving in the War. The contrast between each man's loyalty to a faithful and peaceable Granville could hardly have been more obvious. 3 Haynes's recollections of Smith were, however, from happier days, before "fair moralists" and "self-righteous formalists" had undermined the communal faith: "He was an evangelical preacher. He used to make, at times, considerable impsession on my mind. He used zealously to call upon the youth to remember their Creator. He would preach to us of the dreadful state of the damned." 4 Both Haynes's comments and Cooley's use of them were campaigns in a post-Edwards war against the hydra of liberal religion (Universalism, Unitarianism, Arminianism).

Finally, for the jubilee, Haynes was recalled as one of eighteen accredited ministers trained in Granville and "raised up and sent forth into the great harvest field." Cooley could have been invoking Haynes as he described them as "working men," some of whom "have sunk down and died in their master's service." When he added that "some of them have taken rank among their profession, for great excellence and moral worth," he was almost certainly alluding to Haynes. 5 Haynes's literary gifts, theological depth, and gusto for controversy, as articulated in a series of publications from 1774 to 1820, suggest that but for his race he would have filled an important Calvinist pulpit in Massachusetts or Connecticut instead of settling first in Rutland, Vermont (about thirty miles east of Lake George), then in even more remote Granville, New York (about midway between Hartford and Montreal).

The 1845 celebration of Granville's black native son suggests that Cooley understood the manuscripts he had collected as important. They were held by the Granville First Church from Cooley's pastorship until 1972, when they were donated to the Granville Public Library. After being held in the library's local history room for more than forty years, they were transferred to Boston to the Congregational Library and Archives in 2014. In addition to this transcription of notes for an undated sermon on 1 Samuel 8:19, "Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us," is a description of the manuscript collection in which the notes are held, concluding that it is likely that Cooley acquired the papers in 1810. There is enough evidence to speculate when and why Haynes transmitted his sermon notes to Cooley, then—if we take Cooley's 1845 comments into account—why the white man preserved the papers. The provenance of the document is completely obscure unless it is put in the context of all of Haynes's papers that Cooley collected, so the rest of this introduction seeks to balance analysis of the content and style of the sermon with a description of the collection of manuscripts.

The sermon on 1 Samuel 8:19 is interesting in the context of the manuscripts preserved at the Granville First Church because it is their only example of a sermon written out at length for delivery. The collection of manuscripts includes a commentary on the effect of the Embargo Act of 1807 on local farmers, a number of short comments on the Bible (some of which seem to be theological reflections and some of which seem to be brief or compressed sermon notes), a few mathematical calculations, a handful of letters from Haynes to Cooley, and a suggestion for his own epitaph—which includes the sentence, "Here lies the dust of a poor hell-deserving sinner who ventured into eternity trusting wholly on the merits of Christ for salvation—In the full belief of the great doctrines he preached while on earth." 6

Moreover, the sermon is one of the few surviving autograph manuscripts produced by an African American minister in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. A number of black-authored published sermons exist, but almost all of them were certainly edited and corrected by the black minister himself, by white ministerial colleagues, or by typesetters in print shops—or all of these. One striking difference between Haynes's manuscript and his published sermons is the number and density of biblical citations. In his sermon notes, Haynes cites the Bible three times: the Old Testament text from which he preached (1 Samuel 8:19) and two New Testament texts that in some sense answered it (Romans 8:3 and Matthew 26:15). In his published sermons, Haynes typically cited the Bible many times, crafting a dense web of biblical citations that functioned typologically (the New Testament answering the Old Testament) and that supported the argument he was making. It seems likely that black ministers had one style of citing the Bible for oral delivery and another style for print publication: participation in oral culture but also in print culture. The number and interrelationships of the biblical citations reflect this difference.

Such a source is rare. One that approximates it is Philadelphian Absalom Jones's 1808 Thanksgiving Sermon . . . On Account of the Abolition of the African slave trade. 7 It may seem strange to choose a printed sermon as an example of orality. Jones was, however, very little represented in print culture, with only one other publication, co-authored with Richard Allen. 8 The pamphlet itself purported to be the "same" as "his sermon preached," after Jones presented a "copy" of it to the vestry of the church. 9 That attestation must be taken with a large grain of salt, but it at least raises the possibility that the printer's additions to the sermon manuscript were minimal. The January 1, 1808, text was Exodus 3:7–8, "And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their task-masters; for I know their sorrows, and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians." The remainder of the sermon (the pamphlet totals twenty-four pages) cited no other biblical text, although the New Testament was quoted several times (once again to answer the Old). Familiar oral delivery techniques such as repetition and emphasis of key phrases such as "He came down" seem to have substituted for biblical citations as organizing markers. That Jones's preaching style might have been fiery is suggested by the emphasis the printer added to "He came down" as well as by the text of Jones's 1795 ordination-day sermon, "We preach Christ crucified" (1 Corinthians 1:23), unfortunately not extant today. 10 Had Jones's 1808 sermon—or Jones himself—been more fully absorbed into print culture, it seems likely that further biblical citations would have been added by author, editor, or printer more or less to replace the elements of oral delivery. In short, Haynes's undated sermon (possibly delivered on multiple occasions) and Jones's 1808 Thanksgiving Sermon are probably close to oral delivery by black ministers in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century.

A few words on the content of Haynes's sermon are in order. His text was 1 Samuel 8:19. In 1 Samuel 8, the Israelites complain to Samuel about the corruption of his sons, their governors, but God informs Samuel that the Israelites have in fact turned away from Him in their search for an earthly king. In this, the Israelites wish to be "like all the nations" of the earth, not God's unmatched chosen people (8:5). God inspires Samuel to thunder to the Israelites that if they persist in their pleas for an earthly king, the one who will be appointed to rule them will reduce them and their children virtually to slavery (8:11–17). Romans 8:3 answered this insofar as Jesus undoes the judgment expressed in the Old Testament, coming "in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." Still—this is the ultimate significance of the sermon—some people reject Jesus, going so far as to sell him, as Judas did, yet they are never able ultimately to retain the value of the money or goods for which they have traded Jesus. In this sense, they are like the Israelites of 1 Samuel 8: they prefer to conform to the order of this earth and they accrue the value of normal society, but it slips through their fingers. They treat grace and money alike as fungible. To this typological arrangement, Haynes added some of the staples of evangelical Calvinism, affirming his orthodoxy as well as stirring up (he was reputed "much in revivals") conversions among his auditors. 11 God predestines all: the Incarnation was "necessary" and there is only one way, God's way, to "Justification." Damnation is "voluntary": although God predetermines election and damnation, the damned still have an internal sense of having chosen to sin. Affections must be ignited during sermons: "Suggest tho[ugh]t to excite all to the Service of God." And a point deriving from Jonathan Edwards's view of revelation as a continuing act of God, not sealed in ancient times or with the Revelation to John: "Tis more dangerous selling Christ now . . . than formerly—More evidence that he is the Messiah." In Haynes's time, these were many of the essentials of effective preaching that yielded converts in the "great harvest field."

Whether Haynes was indirectly criticizing slavery in the sermon is not easy to determine. He overtly condemned the slave trade and slavery in other writings, some of which were derived from oral performances. He occasionally inserted pointed comments about slavery and its deleterious effect on black people in his sermons and addresses. Republican objections to enslavement in the ancient world and in the British empire (although many Americans were unwilling to apply classical notions of slavery to black slaves) as well as Christian lamentations about enslavement to sin appeared in his writings. And he was certainly adept at utilizing the Bible symbolically to skewer slaveholders, as when he preached about the difference between the northern and the southern Jewish cities, Israel and Judah, allegorically the northern and the southern states. 12 And Haynes did asseverate that sometimes truth could be revealed only through "hieroglyphical illustrations." 13 Thus it is plausible that the earthly king of 1 Samuel 8 refers to the governments of the slave-holding states (Thomas Jefferson as president was also a possible target). Moreover, it is plausible that selling Christ was meant to suggest the modern practice of selling slaves. In other works, Haynes did assert that slavery was an ancient sin—for instance Abraham breaking the covenant with God by casting his slave Hagar and their child Ishmael out to die—committed over and over again in the modern world. So it would make some sense, in the context of all his works, to recognize Judas's sin reenacted countless times in the modern slave system. However, none of this is overt in the sermon notes. It could have been conveyed only by Haynes articulating it in his delivery or by parallels between old and new so strong that at least some in the audience could not fail to comprehend. 14 In brief, it seems likely that "selling Christ" alluded to the slave trade, but the notes themselves are silent on the point.

The sermon notes cover four and a half sides of sheets of paper, penned in Haynes's hand, without pagination, in a loosely bound book. Haynes may have bound the book himself, which is part of a small collection of documents, some sacred, some secular. The collection includes ten letters, either as delivered or as transcribed, dated (when they are) between October 1796 and April 1810. Cooley was the most common recipient. Corrections made in the sermon notes by Haynes are few. An impression of the sermon—subjective but informed by experience with contemporaneous manuscripts—is that these notes date from Haynes's maturity. There are few corrections. The abbreviations (e.g., "Look the text" and "Jerusalem Judas etc") suggest ease in oral delivery. The layout (e.g., the line breaks) structures the sermon and guides the oral delivery. Moreover, the notes occasionally address Haynes himself, prompting him to speak extemporaneously: "Suggest tho[ugh]t to excite all to the Service of God." These features indicate an individual comfortable in his profession. If this impression is accurate, it must mean that Haynes delivered the sermon away from Granville, then his book made its way to Cooley, possibly accompanied by a letter, possibly transmitted by hand. 15 The first entry in the bound book is a commentary on "the Embargo," beginning, "Mr. G. tells us that it is better for the farmer to submit to the Embargo than to go to war." Haynes almost certainly began keeping the book some time after December 22, 1807, and a guess about the date of the sermon notes on 1 Samuel 8:19 is early 1808. One reasonable surmise about the provenance of the bound book is that Haynes sent it to Cooley some time between July 8, 1808 and April 2, 1810. 16 Letters to Cooley sent in those two months mention illness that Haynes or his family members suffered: "I am just raised up from the brink of the grave for some purpose" (July 8, 1808). Fearing a fatal illness, Haynes may have wanted Cooley to preserve his notes. 17 Indeed, the last page of the bound book contains the epitaph Haynes wished for his gravestone.

Christ Sold Here

[Page: 1]


The more Christians express their love to Sinners, tis commonly the case the more they are hated by them — The more I love the less etc.

Look the text

1 Samuel 8:19

1. God lets people the wicked know what the consequences of their conduct will be.

2. He never lets men run to sin unless they choose to.

3. Let God do or say what he will by moral suasion to deter men from sinful ways yet they will go on to destruction. (Romans 8:3)


The incarnation and death of Christ has given us the most clear exhibition of the evil of sin —

1. Show what flesh that was that Christ in which Christ [cured] men sin

2. Why that flesh was necessary

3. Prove the Doctrine — Thou shall worship The Lord Thy God etc. (Matthew 4:10)

1. What does worshiping God imply.

2. Whence does it appear that he is the only object of worship

3. Suggest [thought] to excite all to the Service of God What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they Covenanted with him for thirty pieces of Silver (Matthew 26:15) £ 3 15 0 starling sterling

[Page: 2]

or $14.79 cents. [* illeg.]

1. Who those are that may be said to sell Christ.

2. Show whoever it is what he has gained so though a money man

3. The great criminality of such conduct. —

1. People sell Christ when he is turned out of our affections and others admitted.

2. When he is turned out of our thoughts and conversation for some others.

3. When we take more pain to secure any thing else be what it may.

4. When we prefer any other way for Justification in the sight of God.

5. When we withhold temporal interest to support his cause

6. When we are turned aside from the ordinances of Christ by the [* illeg.] of the [* illeg.] — From the [sacred] sabbaths prayer etc.

7. When we fear boldly to advocate the cause of Christ before men.

8. When we [refuse] for the present to defer the salvation of our own souls we then sell him for the present

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9. When we exchange the company of Christ for the world

10. When we discard the doctrine of Christ for our own. Men by their public [acts] that advertise him for sale with Judas They let him go cheap.

2dly Why does Christ go so cheap?

1. Men have a great love to worldly objects esteem them too high like Judas love the world

2. Christ promises them no gold in their present estate have no wish for any thing he offers.

3. There are many to prejudice the mind against them Satan and wicked men

4. We may account for it from the characters men sustain [Behind most] Before themselves [lastly] & [easily showed]

5. People by selling Christ promise themselves punishment in this world doubtless this was the case with Judas

3dly The criminality

1. Consider the excellency of Christ he is a pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46) such sell him

2. Such sell their souls.

3. All comfort and hope here and hereafter See the fate of Judas.

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4. Such art a most ungrateful [* illeg.]

5. Such contemn the wisdom [and ways] and glory of God

6. Such virtually sell all the good in the present world as it all comes thro Christ

7. Such extinguish all the benefits off offered by Christ in his [sacred] providences. At death Judgment or [representation] All the prayers of Saints The operations of the Spirit.

8. Tis highly criminal when we consider for what it is that we sell Christ for nothing for a [* illeg.] What did Judas get by the 30 pieces of silver


1. The reason why Christ has not been put to death more than once is not because men are any better now than formerly

2. When God converts a sinner he demonstrates their covenant

3. When he damns them he [* illeg.] it

4. Going to hell is a voluntary thing

5. Tis more dangerous selling Christ now that than formerly — More evidence that he is the Messiah ߞ We see fearful [* illeg.] Jerusalem Judas etc.

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6. We should do all we can to break up the bargain

7. Let all examine Have you not sold Christ probably advertised Christ for sale and actually sold him for a sum much less than 30 pieces of silver and have you not ratified the bargain over and over again

8. Better look over our bargain and get released or [* illeg.]

9. We ought to be affected with the the [sight] that men make such bargains and advise them better


1. That Granville welcomed a young black man as a guest in its pulpit is almost certainly related to a strong streak of religious independence the town displayed in the late eighteenth century. For instance, after a state convention charged in 1779 with writing a new constitution sent its proposed articles out to towns for a ratification vote in 1780, Granville rejected, sixty-four to six, Article Three, which would have allowed all town members to be taxed in order to support a minister for each denomination lawfully represented in the town. See William G. McLoughlin, Isaac Backus and the American Pietistic Tradition (Boston: Little, Brown, 1967), pp. 146–155.

2. "Rev Jedediah Smith, a graduate of Yale in 1750, was ordained pastor of [Granville First] church in 1756. He was an impressive preacher, and in a revival of religion under his ministrations in 1757, as many as thirty persons were added to the church. His views subsequently became 'Stoddardean,' and excited the opposition of many members of his church. He had a stormy time for years, but was not dismissed until April 16, 1776. Mr. Smith was hostile to the Revolutionary cause, and sailed with his numerous family, one son excepted to Louisiana. In going up the Mississippi, he was attacked with a fever, and in a delirium leaped overboard. He was rescued, but soon died, September 2, 1776, at the age of fifty years." Josiah Gilbert Holland, History of Western Massachusetts: The Counties of Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire. Embracing an Outline Aspects and Leading Interests, and Separate Histories of Its One Hundred Towns, Volume 2: Part 3 (Springfield: Samuel Bowles and Company, 1855), p. 66.

3. Jubilee, pp. 48–51. "Impression" misspelled in source. Paragraph break suppressed.

4. Jubilee, pp. 64–65.

5. Lemuel Haynes folder, Early History of the First Church of Christ, Granville, File LL, Granville Public Library, Granville, Massachusetts.

6. Absalom Jones, A Thanksgiving Sermon, preached January 1, 1808, in St. Thomas's, or the African Episcopal, Church, Philadelphia: On Account of the Abolition of the African slave trade, on that day, by the Congress of the United States (Philadelphia: Fry and Kammerer, 1808).

7. [Absalom Jones and Richard Allen,] A narrative of the proceedings of the black people, during the late awful calamity in Philadelphia, in the year 1793: and a refutation of some censures, thrown upon them in some late publications. By A. J. and R. A. (Philadelphia: William W. Woodward, 1794).

8. Jones, A Thanksgiving Sermon, n.p. (page 3 of the pamphlet, which after four unnumbered sheets begins with p. 8).

9. "Philadelphia, Sept 10. On Sunday, the 23rd of August, Absalom Jones, free African, was ordained minister of African church, lately established in the city, by the Right Rev Bishop White, and on Sunday, the 30th of the month, Mr. Jones entered upon the duties of his new appointment, by delivering to a crowded audience a sermon, suited to the occasion, from the following text: 'We preach Christ crucified.'" The New-York Magazine; Or, Literary Repository 6 (1795): 574.

10. Timothy Mather Cooley, Sketches of the Life and Character of the Rev. Lemuel Haynes, A. M.: For Many Years Pastor of a Church in Rutland, Vt., and Late in Granville, New-York (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1837), p. 295.

11. For a discussion of Haynes's north/south allegory, see John Saillant, Black Puritan, Black Republican: The Life and Thought of Lemuel Haynes, 1753-1833 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 143–144.

12. Saillant, Black Puritan, p. 173.

13. The first significant scholarly essay on Haynes, "'Not Only Extreme Poverty, but the Worst Kind of Orphanage': Lemuel Haynes and the Boundaries of Racial Tolerance on the Yankee Frontier, 1770–1820," The New England Quarterly 61:4 (December, 1988): 502–518, in fact argued that indirection was Haynes's métier.

14. Although Haynes and Cooley exchanged letters, nothing in the collection gives clear evidence of the means by which Haynes's sermon notes came into Cooley's possession. A number of Haynes's notes or sermons became available to readers only after his death, beginning with the 1837 publication of what was purported to be his first sermon (on John 3:3) and reaching a climax in the work of Richard Newman, who discovered autograph manuscript notes for several unpublished sermons. See Black Preacher to White America: The Collected Writings of Lemuel Haynes, 1774–1833 (New York: Carlson Publishing, 1990), pp. 31–42, 143–148, 171–174, 229–224. Newman (1939–2003) did not live to see the manuscripts held in Granville, but he would have been pleased to know that further light was yet to be shed on Haynes.

15. Haynes to Cooley, July 8, 1808, Rutland, Vermont; Haynes to Cooley April 2, 1810, Rutland, Vermont. Lemuel Haynes folder. An alternative hypothesis is that the manuscripts were conveyed to Cooley after Haynes's death in 1833. This seems unlikely insofar as Cooley clearly possessed unpublished material about Haynes both as he wrote his 1837 biography and as he prepared his 1845 sermon, yet he included none of that material in the Granville First Church collection. Something distinguished the Granville First Church manuscripts from other material, but today the difference is not obvious.

16. Haynes had recently performed the same service for another minister, Job Swift. For an 1805 book, Haynes had taken Swift's sermon notes and crafted them into full sermons, much to the displeasure of Swift's son. The book is Discourses on Religious Subjects, by the Late Rev. Job Swift, D.D. (Middlebury, Vermont: Huntington and Fitch, 1805). Haynes's method and the younger Swift's objections are discussed in Saillant, Black Puritan, p. 109.