Samuel Abraham Walker.

The Church of England mission in Sierra Leone: including an introductory ... online

. (page 10 of 73)
Online LibrarySamuel Abraham WalkerThe Church of England mission in Sierra Leone: including an introductory ... → online text (page 10 of 73)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

House, before the goyemor and principal persons in the Colony ; there
were present 301 boys, and 133 girls ; the absentees, from sickness and
other causes, were 80 boys, and 60 girb, making a total of 574. Both
boys and girls were found to have made great progress under the Na-
tional system. After the examination, the governor affectionately
addressed the children^ and expressed his satisfaction at the state of
tlie schools.

* Digitized by



The third annual meeting of the Sierra Leone Auxiliary Bihle Society^
was held at Freetown on the 6th of January 1819, his £xcellen(r|r
the Governor in the chair. It appeared from the report, that the com-
mittee had yisited^ according to the su^estion of the late lamented
secretary^ the Rev. William Gamon, firom house to house in Free-
town, to ascertain the want of the scriptures, and the ahility to read
them ; of 240 christian fiamihes, which had been visited, scarcely one
was found without at least one member who could read, and above
400 Bibles and Testaments were found to be in use among them*
One good effect of this visitation was, that the number of subscribers
was nearly doubled, while everywhere the objects of the society
seemed to be justly appreciated. The committee, to use their own
words, '' in witnessing the domestic comforts and good habits of the
people, rejoiced to behold the beneficial influence of the Divine book>
affording the strongest inducements to all classes, to aid its more
ample diffusion.'' The Chief Justice of the colony, addressed the
meeting in a speech much calculated to enhance the estimation in which
the sacred volume was held, and to promote the objects of the Aux-
iliary. As a proof, that African christians were not unmindful of their
obhgations to their fellow-men, in little more than two years above
i8300 had been contributed to the funds of the society.

We have recorded in the preceding volume the fact* that the mis-
sionaries had turned their attention to the daims of the perishing
heathen beyond the colony, and that the experiment of preaching ex-
cursions in the neighbourhood, had been made ; some of the par-
ticulars of which, have also appeared.* So satisfied were Messrs
Johnson and Gates of the advantages hkely to result from the natives
being addressed by their countrymen in the manner in which William
• See pp. 53.9 &c., 547 &c.

Digitized by



lad iddfeMed them, that both he and William Davis were
bj the missioiiaiies into the service of the Society, with the
objeet of tteir bemg eiiq>loyed in bearing the message of salvation into
native districts.

At a meeting of the missionaries, held in Freetown, on the 25 th
of January 1819, Johnson stated that those young men had given
most satisfiictoij ^proofs of their conversion to Christianity, and that
they had long cherished a desire to visit their respective countries in
order to communicate to their friends, what great things the Lord had
done for them, and to make known to them the glad tidings by which
their own hearts had been won. Both of them, Johnson said, pos«
sesaed abilities for the work, as he had proved, at least, in the case
of William Tamba, during the excursion which had been taken
round the colony.*

WiUiam Tamba and William Davis were then called in and ez«
amined. The examination of the former proceeded as follows :

" Do you wish to go among your country people ? " '* Yes." —
••What for?" «• To talk about God palaver."— " Are you able to do
that ? " '* Not by myself, but if God help me, I can." <' Do you think
he will help you ? " " If I pray to Him He will."—" Do you think
your present sitoaiian is better for you ? Many good men have been
ill-treated by an evil world. Perhaps you may be caught and sold
for a slave, or you may be killed." '* I know not what may come to
pass, if they kill me, they kill me, I know what I go for." — "Do
you think it is God's will that you should go ? " "I cannot prove that,
I am foil of fear."—" What do you fear V "I have a great desire to
go and tell them what God has done for me, but I sometimes fear that
it may arise from my own deceitful heart, and that I should do no

Of William Davis, an examination equally satisfactory ensued :
" Do you wish to go to your country people ? " " Yes, I wish ta
talk to them about Jesus Christ. When I remember the state in
which they are, and in which I was, I feel sorry, and wish to go and
talk to them, but am full of doubt." " When did you feel that desire
first ? " " Wlien Jesus first began to work upon my heart, two Christ-
mas* past." " Dare you go to yonr country-people alone ? " " No, I
cannot go in my own strength." " Do you not think they would
cateh you, and make you a slave ? " " Perhaps they would, but if God
be with me, I don't care." " Should you get trouble, or contempt
and ridicule, would you bear it for Christ's sake?" "Yes, I don't
mind that ; my oountiymen here have laughed at me ; if Grod be with
me, I can bear it." " Many young men from Africa have been to £ng^

* Preceding Vol. f . 539.

Digitized by



land and were educated there ; but when they went back to dieir own
ccyontries, they soon tamed heathens again. Do yon thidcyoa ooold
resist this? " " If God be with me I can, bnt by myself, I can do

On the subject of sending native teachers among their conntrynien^
the committee, to whom the accession of Tamba and Davis to the
ranks of the Society was submitted for thebr approval, expressed
themselves to their missionaries with becoming caution, while confirm-
ing thdr appointment. They desired that the natives received into
the Society*s service, should be habituated, on a well-digested plan^
to visit their country-people either in or out of the colony. They felt,
ihey said, *' that it would not be advisable to send native Christians alone
to reside in their respective countries, until they should have gained
some general knowledge of men and things, and be tolerably well
grounded in enlarged views of Christianity, and have given decisive
evidence of its enlightening and steady influence on their own minds.
A competent acquaintance," they continued, ''with the system of
mutual instruction, is of prime necessity to such men : if not pre-
viously grounded therein, the committee wish them to attend some of
the schools until they become familiar with its details ; after taking
charge of a school themselves, for a sufficient time, under the eye of
the Society's friends in the colony ; if they acquit themselves wdl
in that service, they may be sent forth with good hope of success, by
the blessing of God among their countrymen.

European Ministers being still required for the Colony, three addi-
tional labourers embarked at Gravesend for Sierra Leone, on the
18th of January, but having been detained there by contrary winds
until the 29th, they did not reach their destination until the 26th of
March. The new arrivals consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Hiomas Jesty,
and Mr. Henry Barrett, schoolmasters and schoolmistress.

On the 22nd of April, Regent's Town was temporarily deprived of
the services of its highly-esteemed pastor, the Rev. W« Johnson, who
felt himself called upon to accompany his faithful partner to England,
for the restoration of her health, which was greatly impaired ; her
debility being so great that she needed the care and attention of her
husband on the voyage home. The good man's conflicting emotions
on this trying occasion, are well depicted in his journal of this period.

** To leave my people," he said, '' seemed insupportable, and to
leave my afflicted wife seemed equally so. Tears and restless nights
were my portion. I saw my duty as a husband on the one hand, to
accompany my dear wife in her affliction ; and on the other I feared
to become a careless shepherd ; and as trials of this kind seldom come

Digitized by


Johnson's dbpartvrs. 41

by ihemselvefl, doubts and fears of my own state began to preyail, and
I scarcely knew whether I was a Christian.

'* Hea^y^ howeyer, as my trials have been, they haye been blessed
abundantly. The discomrses which I addressed to my people, while
under these conflicts of mind, have been made the means of great
good. No less than fifty-two negroes have been added the last month
to the Churdi of Christ, and many more are candidates for baptism.
*' O my Gody it has been good for me that I hare been aflBdcted I "

The arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Jesty and Mr. Barrett, seemed to
him to open away for hb return to England, especially as it appeared
to him, he might, besides accomplishing his own personal object,
thereby benefit the cause by conferring with the committee on the state
and prospect of the Mission. Mr. Bull having taken charge of the
Seminajy on Leicester Mountain, Mr. Cates had removed to Regent's
Town to assist Mr. Johnson, and Mr. and Mrs. Jesty having been placed
over the schools at Freetown, Mr. and Mrs. Morgan were at hberty to
take charge of R^;ent's Town, during Mr. and Mrs. Johnson's
absence ; the Rev. J. 6. WUhelm undertaking to render the necessary
ministerial services from Leicester Mountdn.

Mr. Johnson now prepared for his departure, about which, as might be
expected, the greatest excitement prevailed among his fiiithful negroes.
Easter Sunday occurred about three days before he sailed. On that
solemn festival he wrote : —

^* The Church was fall at nine o'clock, I married two couples, bap-
tized 110 adults and six infants, and administered the Lord's Supper
to 253 black brethren and sisters, and four white ; myself making 258.

" This was indeed a day of Pentecost in Africa ! "

The separation from Ids n^;roes was very painftd on both sides ;
hundreds of both sexes, and of various ages, accompanied him to
Freetown, a distance of five miles of difficult road» and took leave of
him on the shore with many tears ; regretting — in their ardent affection
for their fiiithfiil shepherd, who had been the honoured instrument of
gathering them out of a howling wilderness of sin and misery into the
fold of Jesus — that they could not be the companions of his voyage.
'* Massa," they exclaimed, as loud and fervent blessings reached him
from all sides, " suppose no water Hve here," pointing to the sea,
** me go with you all the way, till no feet more." *

Shortly after Mr. and Mrs. Jesty arrived in the Colony, they paid
n visit to Regent's Town, anxious no doubt to witness with their own
eyes the wonders of Divine love, which were being exhibited in that

* The reader will remember the affecting parallel instanceB, Acts xz. S6— 38. zxi. 6.

Digitized by



favored spot. In a few dajs Mrs. Jesty wrote to her sister in Eng*
land an account of what she saw and heard, and of her own feelings
under the extraordinary curcumatanoes in which she found herself
placed. We shall freely quote from her and her husband's communi-
cations on this occasion. In the letter to which we have aUuded,
dated April 5, 1819, she wrote :—

. " The power of the gospel and the efficacy of the love of Christy
have excited such joy withhi me, that I cannot resist giving you some
information respecting it. As it is not determined where my husband
and myself shall be stationed, we accepted the iuTitation to visit
some of our friends before we enter on our important work. This is our
first visit to Mr. Johnson's. I wish that I could find language suffid*
ently descriptiye of the interesting scenes which we haye witnessed
here ; indeed they must be seen before these facts will be creditad.
Bjad I heard the circumstances from the best authority, I could not have
considered it possible that so glorious a progress could haye be^i made
in the work of our God, as we have beheld since we have been staying
at Regent's Town. On Thursday the first of April, Mr. Johnson
' sent five of his people to Freetown to take me to his house in a
palankeen. While they waited, we heard singing, and on going to the
door found that these fire men had seated themselves under the
piazza, and with united yoices were singing a hymn to the praise and
glory of the Redeemer. We did not disturb them, but returned to
our room, and as you may imsgine with feelings of peculiar pleasure,
that the songs of Sion should be sung by the inhabitants of a heathen
land. In the course of an hour I set off in the pslankeen, home by
those Ubeiated negroes ; when we got to the top of Leicester Moun^
tain, over which we had to pass in our way to Regent's Town, I
requested my bearers to stop and rest themselves, and then took an
opportunity of introducing a religious conversation. I tlnnk I may
say that the few minutes during which we rested on the Mountain,
were the happiest that I had then ever experiened, because I had never
before had an opportunity of seeing the glorious effects wrought by
the gospel of Jesus, on ihe hearts of our dear black brethren. I was
much astonished to hear one of the men, (called the headman,) address
the other four in language truly Scriptural, and of godly simplicity ;
using the words of exhortation, and strongly urging the necessity of
the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse them from their sins ; he spoke
much of their depravity by nature, and of their weakness and in-
sufficiency without Christ. While his httle audience listened wkh an
attentive anxiety to hear the truths of the gospel from one of their
countrymen ;* I was much affected at what he said, and was ready to
exclaim, " Oh how powerful is the word of God ! "

" The love which these people manifest among themselves, and toward

Digitized by


seobmt's toww. 43

their minister, and aH fidthful missionaries, — thar anxiety, and the fer-
vency of their prayers, that the gospel may be made known throogh all
nations — ^these things are worthy the admiration of all Christians.
It may almost be said of the inhabitants of Regent's Town, that they
dwell in lore ; and that they liye a life of pmyer and praise, to £Um
who loyed them and gare Himself for them ; for besides their meeting
€ar prayer every morning and evening, the hearts of many of them
seem to be full of the love of Christ the whole day ; and when they
are merry they sing psalms, such vocal music resounds from all parts
of the town. A dispute is seldom known amongst them, they have
erery one of them cast off his gr^ree, and nearly all of thenl are be*
coBoe worahippers of the blessed Jesus. A few years since, all the in*-
habitants of this place had never heard the name of Jesus, they went
aboDt naked, and were in every respect like the savage tribes — but
1I0W, Oh what a happy change I they are all decently dressed, and it
is the most heart-cheering sight to see them flock together in crowds
to the house of prayer.

*^ Mr. Johnson has been made an instrument of incalculable good
to this people. Under his ministry 116 persons have become commu-
iiicant8> and 1 10 are candidates for baptism and the Lord's supper :
these win be received as members of the Church of Christ on Easter
Sunday. He is very particular in his examination of the people before
they are admitted to the Lord's table.

" It may indeed be said that numbers are added to the Church daily,
for Mr. Johnson has frequently five or six aday comingto ins house to
talk of the state of their souls, who I4>pear to be very sincere. During
the few days that we have been here, upwards of fifty persons have
been to tell Mr. Johnson of their troubles, which they confess in sfftct-
ing terms. — ' My bad heart trouble me — ^me no sleep all night — ^me no
peace — ^me know me very wicked, but God good too much — me tank
God for what He has done for my soul — ^me want love Jesus more—
me want to go to Jesus — me know nothing else but the blood of Jesus
can wash away my sins.' Sueh complaints as these from these lost
aheep of Israel are incessantiiy brought before their worthy pastor, wh<^
with affection directs them to the great Comforter, and advises them
to embrace that gospel which is the power of God unto salvation.

** My dear sister, is not this encouraging to all Christian friends in
England, to be doubly xealous and active in their missionary exertions ?
Let me entreat you all to be unwearied in your efforts and prayers, that
all Afriea may become as Begent's To wn. This is the part of the
gospel. O send forth the gospel and more faithful labourers into the
inneyard of the Lord I Let me again beg of you» my dear sister, to
pray and not to faint. Let the interest of Christ's kmgdom be ever
uppermost in your heart. Here is yet a wide field for labour. May

Digitized by



the hxppy effect of the gospel be felt by all b^ughted Africa, and to
God shall the glory be giyen for ever."

Of a Sunday spent in Rent's Town, Mr. Jesty, after spealdng oF*
an early meeting in the Church, at six o'clock in the momingy — ^thus
writes : —

'* At ten o'dock I saw a sight, which at once astonished and dehgbted.
me. The bell at the Church rang for Divine service, on which Mr.
Johnson's well-regulated schools of boys and girls, walked two and two
to the Church. The girls, extremely clean and dressed entirely in white,
in striking contrast with which were their black arms and faces. Thie
boys equally clean, were dressed in white trowsers, and scarlet jackets.
The doihing of both boys and girls is suppUed by government. The
eagerness of the inhabitants to hear the word, will appear from their
early attendance on the means of grace. It is true there is a heU
in the steeple of the Church, but it is of Uttle use in R^;ent's Town,
for the Church is generally filled half an hour before the bell toUs.
The greatest attention is paid during the service, indeed I witnessed a
Christian congregation in a heathen land ; — a people " fearing God, and
working righteousness." The tear of godly sorrow rolled down many a
coloured cheek, and shewed the contrition of a heart that felt its own

" At three o'clock in the afternoon, there was again a very full at-
tendance, so that scarce an individual was to be seen throughout the
town ; so eager are they to hear the word, and to feed on that living
bread that came down from heaven. The service was over about half
past four o'dock.

'* At six we went again, and although many had^to come from a con-
siderable distance, and up a tremendous hUl, I did not perceive any
decrease of number, or any weariness in their frequent attendance on
the means of grace.

** We left the Church about eight o'dock and returned to Mr. John-
son's. While at supper, I heard singing, and on walking into the piassa,
found that about twenty of the school-girls were assembled under it.
One of the dder girls gave out the hymn in an impressive manner,
while a younger girl held a lamp. After we had supped, the girls, in
a very respectful and humble way, sent up to Mr. Johnson to know if
he would allow them to come up stairs into his sitting-room to sing a
parting hymn. On their entering the room, Mr. Jobmson gave out a
hymn, and in a few minutes, I think we had at least, 120 boys and
girls in the room and piazza. They sung three hymns, and after a
few suitable words from Mr. Johnson they departed, pleased vrith the
favour granted them.

<< Thus was our last Sabbath spent at Hegent's Town. Nfrer did I

Digitized by



pass such a day in my dear native country. Never did I witness such
a congregation in a professing Christian land, nor ever beheld such
apparent sincerity and brotherly love."

Of the monthly meeting held on the following evening, Mr. Jesty
thus writes :

" Mr. Johnson and myself entered the names of subscribers and re*
oeived their mites ; and I cannot but notice that, in one minute after
Mr. Johnson and myself were ready to receive the money and names,
we were surrounded by several hundred of humble friends to missionary
exertions, urging as with one voice, ' Massa, take my money. Massa,
Massa, take mine! Eight coppers, one moon.' It was indeed a
pleasing sight to behold a people, once led captive at the will of Satan,
devoted to gross superstition and folly, embracing their gregrees,
and trusting in them for defence ; and expending all the money that
they could spare in the purchase of these false gods — ^now conquered
by the love and power of Him that taketh away the sin of the world :
and with cheerful and renewed hearts, giving of their littie sub-
stance to aid those means which, by the blessing of God, will commu-
nicate the privileges of tiie gospel to their countrymen also. From
these few poor and once injured and despised Africans, we collected
that evening about i62. 7«. Oh, my countrymen, fellow Christians in
highly-favoured England ; you who have multiplied and daily renewed
comforts and blessings, go and do likewise ! ' "

Of the manner of closing this day, Mr. Jesty said :
" After we left the Church, the children of the two schools retired
to their school-houses, and the rest of the congregation to their respec-
tive homes.

" But that faith which cometh from above and worketh by love, has
taken such possession of the hearts of this people, that they delight to
be continually speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and
spiritual songs, and to sing with grace in their hearts to the Lord.

'* The school-houses are situated behind Mr. Johnson's, on a higher
part of the hill. The school-girls assembled in a row before their
school-house, with three or four lamps dispersed through their line.
The eldest teacher gave out the hymn, and they were singing dehght*

'* How beaQteou are their feet.
Who stand on Zion'shill."

^' While the girls were singing this hymn, the boys had climbed a
little higher up the hiU, when one of their teachers gave out the

" Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched ;— '•

'* It was a beautiful moonlight night, so that the children could be

Digitized by



seen from all fiarCs of the town, while the lofty moantains resoanded
with the edio of their Toices. I was walking up and down in the
piazza, listening to them and anticqiating that time, when aO kinga
shall fall down before the Redeemer, and all natimis shall senre Him,
when I saw at the foot of the hill, some men and women txnmng to-
wards the children. The men joined the bojs, and the women joined
the girls.

*' The hoys and girls had now sung several hymns, and after a few
minutes cessation began again. I was thinking c^ oar Christian friends
in England, and said to Mr. Johnson, Gould all the friends of mis*
sionary exertions but witness this scene, they would be more md more
sealouB for the universal diffusion of the gospel of a cracified Saviour ;
— ^when I looked round me, and saw numbers of the inhabitants, men
and women coming in every direction. They joined respectively the
boys and girls, and sung for some time ; when the boys and girls re*
turned to their school-houses, and the men and women retired to
their houses in peace. This is a great work: and it is mar-
vellous in our eyes. But it is the Lord, and to him be all the glory ! "

Mr. Jesty added :

** We rose next morning between five and six o'clock, and attended
morning prayer at the Church. After the service was over, a few
mere came forward and begged us to take their coppers to aid the
oause of misaions. We collected on this occasion, upwards of fifteen
shillings, which, with the collection made the evening before, amounted
to more than three pounds. Mr. Johnson has a missionary meeting
and sermon onoe a mouth, on which occasions he generally collects
three pounds. Do not these poor people hold forth a bright example
to all Christians.'*

The impression produced on a stranger by a first visit to Regent's
Town, especially should it take place at night, is finely describ^ by
this worthy schoolmaster.

" Just as we had reached the summit of the last mountain, between
Freetown and Regent's Town, the latter place presented itself to our
view. As I walked down the mountain, pleased with the enchanting
scene, I was in an instant lost, in ^ wonder, love, and praise.' Music
of the sweetest kind, and possessing charms which I had never before
experienced, burst upon my ear. It was moonlight, and all the houses
being lighted up, I inquired of Brother Johnson, from whence this
sound proceeded : he pointed to the church, which is situated at the side

Online LibrarySamuel Abraham WalkerThe Church of England mission in Sierra Leone: including an introductory ... → online text (page 10 of 73)