CUFF was a Negro slave who lived in the South, before the war. He was a joyful Christian and a faithful servant. His master, however, was in need of money and one day a young planter, who was an infidel, came to buy Cuff. The price was agreed upon and the Christian slave was sold to the infidel. But in parting with him the master said, "You will find Cuff a good worker and you can trust him; he will suit you in every respect but one."
"And what is that?" said the infidel.
"He will pray, and you can't break him of it; but that is his only fault."
"I'll soon whip that out of him," remarked the infidel.
"I fear not," said the former master, "and would advise you not to try it; he would rather die than give it up."
Cuff proved faithful to the new master, the same as he had to the old. The master soon got word that he had been praying, and on calling him said, "Cuff, you must not pray any more; we can't have any praying around here; never let me hear any more about this nonsense."
Cuff replied, "O Massa, I loves to pray to Jesus, and when I pray I loves you and Missus all the more, and can work all the harder for you."
But he was sternly forbidden ever to pray any more under penalty of a severe flogging. That evening, when the day's work was done, he talked to his God, like Daniel of old, as he had aforetime. Next morning he was summoned to appear before his master, who demanded of him why he disobeyed him. "O Massa, I has to pray. I can't live without it," said Cuff. At this the master flew into a terrible rage and ordered Cuff to be tied to the whipping post, and his shirt off. He then applied the rawhide with all the force he possessed, until his young wife ran out in tears and begged him to stop. The man was so infuriated that he threatened to punish her next, if she did not leave him, then continued to apply the lash until his strength was exhausted. Then he ordered the bleeding back washed in salt water; and the shirt on and the poor slave to be about his work. Cuff went away singing in a groaning voice:
"My suffering time will soon be o'er, When I shall sigh and weep no more."
He worked faithfully all that day, though in much pain, as the blood oozed from his back where the lash had made long, deep furrows. Meantime, God was working on the master. He saw the wickedness and cruelty to that poor soul, whose one fault had been his fidelity, and conviction seized upon him; by night he was in great distress of mind. He went to bed but could not sleep. Such was his agony at midnight that he awoke his wife and told her that he was dying.
"Shall I call in a doctor?" she asked.
"No, no; I don't want a doctor - is there anyone on the plantation that can pray for me? I am afraid that I am going to Hell."
"I don't know of anyone," said his wife, "except the slave that you punished this morning."
"Do you think he would pray for me?" he anxiously inquired.
"Yes, I think he would," she replied.
"Well, send for him quickly."
On going after Cuff they found him on his knees in prayer and when called he supposed it was to be punished again. On being taken to the master's room he found him writhing in agony. The master groaning, said, "O Cuff, can you pray for me?"
"Yes, bless de Lord, Massa, I'se been prayin' for you all night," and at this dropped on his knees and, like Jacob of old, wrestled in prayer, and before the breaking of day witnessed the conversion of both master and mistress. Master and slave embraced; race differences and past cruelty was swept away by the love of God and tears of joy were mingled. Cuff was immediately set free. He never worked another day on the plantation. The master took Cuff and went out to preach the Gospel; they traveled all over the South, witnessing to the power of Christ to save to the uttermost. This is what the love of God will do for a person.
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
(2 Corinthians 5:17)