JASPER, JOHN: Colored Baptist pulpit orator; b. a slave on the Peachy plantation on the James River, in Fluvanna Co., Virginia, July 4, 1812; d. in Richmond, Va., Mar. 30, 1901. His father was Philip Jasper, his mother's name was Nina, and he was her twenty-fourth child, born two months after his father's death. When grown to manhood he came to Richmond as a slave and was employed as a stemmer in the large tobacco factory of Samuel Hargrove, a prominent Baptist. He had no education, but with the help of a colored man almost as ignorant as himself he learned to read six months before his conversion, which occurred on Thursday, July 25, 1839. His father had been a preacher, and he followed his example. He soon became a favorite among the colored people of Richmond, then his fame spread, especially as a funeral preacher, until he was known all over the State. He made himself master of the Bible, and was a formidable opponent of those who questioned his interpretation. When emancipated he gathered about him a congregation and soon had a building to preach in. More and more came to hear him until at length the Sixth Mount Zion Church was built for him, and there he preached to several thousand people every Sunday. In 1878, in the regular course of his ministry, he preached from Ex. xv. 3, "The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name." He began with Biblical illustrations of the almighty power of God, but branched off into the demonstration by Biblical texts literally construed of the proposition that "the sun do move." The sermon was prepared to end a dispute upon the question of the sun's motion and was delivered without any desire to cause talk. It made a sensation, had to be repeated again and again, and he was even sent out by a lecture bureau to repeat it outside of Richmond. But it only made his name a by-word and obscured to many the fact that he really had solid claim to be considered a pulpit orator. Even this particular sermon was saved from being ridiculous by the Preacher's profound reverence for the Bible, simple faith in the Bible miracles, and his logical power and remarkable eloquence of a rude but genuine kind. He had also humor of the most delicious variety. In short, in him the type of the ante-bellum uneducated but gifted, pious, and witty colored preacher reached its culmination.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: W. E. Hatcher, John Jasper, New York, 1908.
JASPIS, ALBERT SIGISMUND: General superintendent of Pomerania; b. at Nossen (19 m. w. of Dresden) Feb. 15, 1809; d. at Stettin Dec. 20, 1885. He studied at the gymnasium in Freiburg-on-the-Mulde and at Leipsic. In 1832 he became catechist and afternoon-preacher in St. Peter's Church in Leipsic. In 1835 Jaspis became pastor in Lugau, three years later diaconus in Lichtenstein, and pastor in Rödlitz. His faithfulness and especially his success with children and young people won him the hearts of his parishioners in both places. In 1845 he went over to the Prussian State Church, after having been elected third preacher of the Evangelical Lutheran congregation in Elberfeld. In 1855 he was called to Stettin as general superintendent of Pomerania. He represented a pietistic confessionalism, and his gifts lay in the direction of the practical cure of souls. He was not without success as a writer of devotional and pastoral literature, and some of his tracts found a large circulation. But the publication which carried his name far beyond the borders of Evangelical Germany was his compilation of Luther's small catechism for the instruction of young people to be confirmed. This booklet is one of the most successful attempts at the solution of the catechetical problem of the Church as it was conceived in the middle of the nineteenth century in the circles of pietistic confessionalism.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Sketches were written by his son, one prefixed to Jaspis' Erinnerungen an eine Zeit wo es trübe und finster war, Cologne, 1888, the other in Bilder aus dem kirchlichen Leben . . . in Pommern, pp. 205 sqq., Stettin, 1895.
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