Samuel Abraham Walker.

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

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back, all people laugh. Plenty people live here, they sick, they have
no foot to walk ; but to-day, all get strong to run to Freetown.'

" Another said, ' Massa, aU that time you go to England, all we
people stand like chickens when their hen die or leave them, and then
they all run about and cry ; but when they find their Mammy again,
they are glad and quiet.'

'* When we had been ten minutes or a quarter of an hour in the
house, they began to ring the bell for prayers. We went into the
church, which I found full. The sight affected me so much, that it
was with the greatest difficulty that I could utter a word. I read the
89th Psalm, and concluded with prayer, this was all I could do.

'* And now since I am here again, and my former health established,
I am happy. I was afflicted, but it was good for me to be so, and it
has proved to have been good also to my people."

The African Mission had now arrived at a period when its stability
was to be severely tested. The Allwise, whose gracious approval of
the design with which it was undertaken, and carried on, could not
be doubted, now seems to have allowed him who has the power

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of death to deal with it as he did with faithful Job, and for time
same purpose, that its integrity might be fully ascertained. While
the Committee in their twenty-third Annual Report were ooxm*
gratulating the friends and patrons of the Society, that they
had not to announce the death of any of their Missionaries ; a darlc
doud of Almighty judgment was suspended over the Colony, and was
pouring forth its pestilential showers on the devoted inhabitants of
every colour, and in every department. The yellow fever was tlie
instrument employed, and the mortality was frightful both among tbe
military and civil residents of the Colony, as well as among the
Missionaries. In a letter written by Mr. Vaughan to the Secretary*
dated 18th of June 1823, when as yet the Missionaries had escaped^
he says : —

" The following is the number of Europeans who have died nace

my arrival in the Colony :* — In the month of December, severe

January, two— February, nine — March, eleven — ^April, twelve

May, twenty-four — and (to the date of this letter) June, twelve, total
seventy-seven. Among this unhappy number, I have buried three
medical men, Andrew Kennis, M.D., Philip Duigan, M.D. and James
Pemberhaken, M.D. who all died within twelve days ; and also three
of our council, Thadeus O'Meara, who has left a wife and four
daughters to lament his loss ; John O'Neil Walsh, acting Colonial
Secretary ; and Edward Fitzgerald, Chief Justice ; Mr. Fitzgerald was
only three days ill and died on Tuesday morning, June the second.

** Very few of the Europeans, who have recently died, have fidlen
victims to the fever of the climate. The medical men have not ascer-
tained the character of the disease. Almost all die of the black
vomit, and very few that have died, have had more than three or four
days* illness.

** Oh that the dispensations of providence may be sanctified to all
our souls."

The death of the Chief Justice, mentioned in the above extract, was
a severe blow to the cause of Africa. He was well known and esteemed
as the friend of every Christian and benevolent work. " The day he
died," said Vaughan, "was a day of general mourning and laments*
tion. His house was filled with people, I should think that upwards
of 2,000 people attended his funeral ; it had a grand and awful appear-
ance, for there were but few coloured people down whose cheeks tears
of sorrow did not stream. There was the greatest solemnity and
order which I ever remember to have seen on such an occasion. All
the military followed the corpse to the grave, where brother Nylander
buried him."

The faith of the Missioiuuries was severely tried during this awful

♦ December 3id 1822. See p. 184.

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^sitation, the like of which the oldest had not experienced. *' I can
assure you," writes Nylander on the 13th of May, "that I have not
seen a season like this since I have heen in the Colony. I saw a note
iVom a workman in the king's carpenter's shop, wherein he said,
* There is nothing hut making of coffins going on in our shop, three
and four in a day.' Nothing hut a vital sense of oneness with Him
^ho is the resurrection and the hfe, could avert despondency under
such circumstances.

Ahout the middle of April the destroying angel flapped his sahle
vrings for the first time over the Missionary field. James Bunyer, who
liad arrived on the 9th of January, and was appointed schoolmaster
at Freetown, was his first victim. A letter from Mr. During dated April
21st, describes his end, he wrote : —

**I saw him last Tuesday the 15th, when he was in a very happy
state of mind; with tears rolling down his checks, he said, 'I know
that the Lord has loved me, but this grieves me, that I have coldness
of heart toward Him.' He cherished, at that time, some hope of
recovery. On Saturday the 19th, he was thought to be out of danger,
lie called all present to join him in prayer, which he himself offered up
in the most affecting language ; in the attempt, however, to sing " Praise
God from whom all blessings flow," which he had given out, his
strength failed him. He was shortly after seized with convulsions,
which bereaved him of his faculties ; and on Sunday Morning, about
one o'clock, he fell asleep in Christ.

*' He was a very consistent young man, and would have no doubt,
proved very useful. I preached his funeral sermon, last night to a
full congregation, from Isaiah Ivii. 2.*'

The spirit with which this worthy man was entering on his labours
is manifested in a letter of his to the Secretary, dated March 14,
1823; little more than a month before the Lord saw fit to summon
him from the field which he was only permitted to take possession of —

*' On our arrival at Freetown after a very favourable passage of
twenty-nine days, Messrs. Johnson, Flood, and the other Missionary
friends came out to meet us. We all breakfasted at Mr. Flood's, when
the number of Missionary labourers assembled, was twenty-nine ; so
many friends being at Freetown, was occasioned by the Anniversary
having taking place the day before our arrival.

" At Kissey we met with a very kind reception. The arrival of so
many fellow-labourers filled the hearts of our brethren with joy and
gratitude. The labours of the Society will now be extended far and
wide, on account of the number arrived.

" Not having a residence, myself and Mrs. Bunyer went to Leopold.
I visited Charlotte, Gloucester, and Regent. Those stations truly

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answer the description I had read of them in the Missionaiy Registei
when in Eng^d. No lorer of religion, or of ciTilization, can yien
these stations without astonishment. The work of God goes on, also,
visibly at Waterloo. I accompanied several of our friends thither, for
the purpose of laying the foundation-stone of a Church (which was
done by Mr. Reffell,) and forming a branch Associatioa. This being
the first Missionary meeting which I had attended, I felt much in-
terested, indeed, I know not how to express my feelings on the occa-
sion. Mr. Wilhelm was so filled with gratitude to Grod, that he
expressed it with tears. All who were present heartily thanked God
and took courage, assured that He was fast ripening his purposes of
grace toward Africa.

" On Mr. Reffell furnishing me with a house, I commenced my la-
bours in Freetown school, which took place three weeks after my
arrival. Brother Vaughan and I, with Mr. Fox, conduct the boys
school ; and Mrs. Vaughan, Mrs. Bunyer, and Mrs Foil, that of the girls.
We should have rejoiced to find them going on more prosperously ;
but Mr. and Mrs. Fox wanted aid ; they were not wanting on their
parts, but used all possible diligence. The united labours, now exercised
there, will, we trust, have God's blessing upon them, and our weak-
ness be made perfect by Almighty strength. We hope to retain yonr
confidence, and with faithfulness to discharge the trust committed to
our care. Brother Vaughan and I alternately attend the adnlt-sehool,
which is held every day from four to six o'clock, Saturdays and Sun-
days excepted ; Mr. Fox attends when opportunity offers. I visit the
hospital, at which place there is a door open for great usefulness : it is
generally pretty full.

" Having a good supply of tracts, I visit, every spare opportunity,
those who are destitute of them, and distribute them. It pleases God
still to continue the blessing of health to me and my wife, several of
our friends have ^en a prey to fever since our arrival, but the Lord
still holds us up. May we work while it is called to-day, while Ufe
and health last ; and not in our own strength, but more simply in
dependance on the power and teaching of the Holy Spirit.

*• We hope that you are well in health, according to the will of God ;
we fail not to remember you, dear Sir, with all our other friends, at
the footstool of infinite mercy, assured that we shall be remembered
in return."

The Rev. W. H. Schemel, who came out in the same ship with
Bunyer, soon followed him to the grave. His removal from the Colony
had been advised by two medical men on the 20th of March. Their
certificate on that occasion, was highly honourable to the christian cha-
racter of their patient. "We recommend," they wrote, "Mr. Sche-

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mel's return by an early ship ; and as his attachment to the cause in
nrhich he is engaged, is such that he will only resign it with his life,
we should surest that the climate of the Mediterranean, India, or
!New Holland, is best calculated for him. We can promise no recovery,
and only a deceptive amelioration while he remains here ; as the
sudden transitions from heat to cold, and other local circumstances, are
directly the reverse of being favourable to him."

His return, however, though decided on, was not to take place. On
the 19th of April he was seized with apoplexy, repeated attacks of
which brought him to the grave. He died on the 25th of April. An
extract from his correspondence will show that he was prepared for
usefulness, if it had been the design of his Master to employ him.

** I commenced a regular course of study. In the morning I trans-
late a chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians from the Greek ; and
have begun with the assistance of the best German critics, to write a
brief explanation of the epistle. In the afternoon, I either write ser-
mons or translate Psalms out of the Hebrew. These employments
afford me many pleasures ; and I often think — How delightful will it
be to be able to instruct one of those Afiican youths, who will be en-
trusted to my care, in the sacred languages, and in the elements of
christian theology. Yet I will not too confidently look forward, for
then I shall prepare for myself disappointments."

Dehrium having accompanied the fever of which he died, little can be
said of his last moments ; when however a lucid interval was allowed
him, he expressed a confident hope in the work of his Redeemer.

In the order of time we are brought to the recital of the saddest
event of this disastrous period — the death of the Rev. William John-
son, the faithful and successful pastor of R^nt. We feel satisfied
that this melancholy announcement will awaken emotions of no com-
mon regret in the breast of the reader, who has we trust learned by
this time to venerate the name, and love the character of this christian
man. His wife's departure for England, with Mr. and Mrs. During,
has been mentioned, but the hope of benefit to her health from the
change had not been realized. Poor Johnson heard with deep concern
that her life hung as it were by a thread, and he conceived an earnest
desire to behold the partner of his earthly vicissitudes and heavenly
hopes, once more before their final separation in this world. He had
also some business of a domestic nature, requiring his presence in
Hanover, his native country ; accordingly he sought and obtained per-
misoon from the Committee to make another voyage to England, and
he embarked the day after poor SchemeFs death, the 26th of April,
1 823, in the " Betsy and Anne " — ^the same vessel in which During and
his family had returned to the Colony. The infimt daughter of Mr.
and Mrs. Diiring was committed to his care, their only surviving child,

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they faaTiDg lost their sod, a fine child, between two and three yesn
old, a few days before. A young native woman, one of Johnson's oom- -
municants, accompanied them to take care of the child: a circum-
stance proyidentially ordered, as appeared in the sequel.

Mr. Johnson embarked in apparently the soundest health, bat on the
third day of sailing, the seeds of the fatal disease, which he most have
carried with him on board, b^an to exhibit th^ effects. The day
after which, Wednesday, the fever increased so that he began to antici-
pate the worst. On Thursday a blister was applied to his chest with-
out any favourable result. On Friday the disease had made such pro-
gress that he could not turn in the bed :<•— the cough now came on, and
he suffered much from the black vomit. '* I think I cannot live^" he
observed to his weeping attendant.

On Saturday, May the Srd, he had intervals of delirium, during
which he called on David Noah, his faithful native assistant at Begent,
and on his faithful friend During, saying that he wished to tell them
all that he had to say before he died. When composed, he expressed
an earnest wish to see bis wife, and spoke encouragingly to his poor
convert, who waited on him with the tenderest solicitude, striving to
calm her fears and directing her how to proceed on her arrival in
London. He asked her to read to him the twenty-third psalm,
'when,' said she, afterwards relating these melancholy particulars,
* I had read it, he said to me, *I am going to die — ^pray for me,* •!
prayed the Lord Jesus/ she added, 'to take him the right way.'
He afterwards charged her to take good care of Mr. Daring's little girl,
and to desire the Society to send a good minister to Regent's Town,
as quickly as possible, or the people would be left in darkness. * If;'
said he, ' I am not able to go back, you must tell Darid Noah to do
his duty ; for if Noah say, ' Because massa dead, I can do nothing^'
he must pray, and God will help him, and so we shall meet in heaven.'
His last intelligible words were, ' I cannot live, God calls me and I
shall go to Him this night.' His prediction was fulfilled ; that night
he meekly resigned his spirit into the hands of that beloved Saviour,
of whose cause he was so eminent a champion, and through whom he
had achieved so many a brilliant triumph over the brutalizing arts of
Satan, even in that enemy's favourite domain.

Just after his embarkation, he had addressed a letter to lus colored
people, exhorting them to continue in the grace of God ; so anxiously
did he at all times regard the work which the Lord had given him to
do ; and in his dying moments, he did not forget the many claimants
on his paternal affection, whom he was about to leave behind him, —
Like Moses, he desired that ** the Lord would set a man over the
congregation, who might go out before them, and who might go in
before them, and who might lead them out, and who might bring

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MR. Johnson's early life. 193

them in, that the congregation of the Lord might not be as sheep,
which have no shepherd/' * assured on his own part of that " crown
of righteousness which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, had prepared
for him, and for all that love his appearing." f

^We can raise no more appropriate memorial of this departed saint,
than the introduction here of a short sketch of his early life, and the
circumstances attending his connexion with the Church Missionary
Society, presented by himself to the Committee in reply to the in-
struction conveyed to him and his brother missionaries, Not. 19, 1819,
on the occasion of their being dismissed to their several stations, when
he was about to return to Sierra Leone after his visit to England. In
the course of the instructions delivered to the African missioharies, the
Committee, addressing themselves particularly to Mr. Johnson, said :

*• You, Mr. Johnson, will resume your station with joy. The aflFec-
tion of your people will alleviate in some measure, the pain which you
and Mrs. Johnson naturally feel at the necessity of her remaining for a
time in this country, for the restoration of her health.^

*' The Committee have been much refreshed by the commdnications
which they have had with yoi\ ; and have derived from the information
which your residence in AfHca has enabled you to give them, a much
better view than they could otherwise have had of the actual state of
the mission.

*' They would take this opportunity of returning you the thanks of
the Society, for your indefatigable exertions ; and of expressing their
cordial approval of that Christian simplicity and zeal with which you
hare preached to the n^roes of your congregation, Christ, and him
cmcified. To other missionaries, you have furnished an example of
that course of proceeding with the negroes, which it pleases God to
bless to their highest and greatest good : and the success which He
haa vouchsafed to your labours, will be abundant encouragement to
you to persevere."

Mr. Johnson's reply was as follows :

** As I have been for several years connected with the Society, and
have laboured for three years, through the grace of God, with success,
among the liberated negroes at Regent's Town, in the Colony of Sierra
Leone, I shall, in behalf of myself and the friends who are proceeding
with me to Africa, reply to the instructions which haye been now de-
livered to us.

'* It may be desirable that I should first state somewhat of the
course, tlurough which it has pleased Grod to lead me.

" I lefk my father's house, and my native country (which is Han-

* Numben xzvii. 16, 17. t 2 Tim. iv. 8.

t At his earnest reqaeet this arrangement was afterwards abandoned, and she returned
with her husband to Africa.

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oyer,) ignorant of real religion. In that state I came to London ; and
lived there, in the oommon courses of the world, till the jeair 1812»
when it pleased God to bring me into many outward difficndties, and
to overrole them for mj spiritual good. EEaying heard that DiTine
service was held at the German Chapel in the Savoy, every Monday
and Friday evening, I purposed to go on the following Friday ; when
the day cam^ I went Uiither» almost in despair oa aocoant of my sins.
Mr. Lehman, a missionaiy of the United Brethren, gave an exhortation
that evening. He explained the love of Jesus in dying for sinnera ;
and stood, with open arms, exclaiming—* Is there a sinner here, full of
sin, and ready to sink under it, I bid, in the name of Jesns, such an
one to come to Him ; for he has said, ''Come unto me, all ye that labour
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Hiia giacioiis iaviU-
tion was what I stood in need of. I was enabled to cast my burden
before the Lord ; and I found peace, I trust, through His precbus
blood. I went home quite another man. Many passages of Scripture
occurred to my mind ; and I felt surprised that I should have learned
them by heart when young, and many times repeated them, and jet
never considered what they contained.

*' From that time, I began to attend Missionary and Bible Meetings.
In November, 1813, 1 attended a meeting, held on the occasion of three
missionaries being dismissed to their labours. When one of ^em
opened the feelings of his mind, I was greatly struck to find his were
much like mine ; and, on his stating what induced him to go abroad as
a missionary, I felt strongly, at the moment, what the Saviour had
done for me, and how great was the misery of the heathen. I was
greatly overcome, and gave free course to the feelings of my heari^
saying at the time, * Here am I, Lord ; send me, if it be thy holy will.'

'* After this I had no rest, till I offered myself as a Missionary : but
I had many doubts, on account of my inability and imperfect acqqain-
tance with the EngHsh language, whether I could be admitted. In the
beginning of 1815, I was received by the Society : but my doubts snd
fears much increased, from the apprehension that I shoidd still labour
in vain. I had, however, at times, encouragement from that promise —
' My grace is sufficient for thee.'

" At length the time of our departure came ; and I was again much
distressed, on account of the place of our destination. Sierra Leone
appeared always a very dark spot to me. I had continually read the
Missionary R^ter, but saw, as yet, no firuit at that place. Nothing
but death and misery appeared before me. However, when this was
the case, I was again mercifully supported by that promise, ' I wiU
bring the blind by a way which they know not, &c.' This passage and
the one before mentioned comforted me, and caused me to proceed
cheerfiiUy to Sierra Leone. It is now four years since I left this

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MR. Johnson's first struggle. 195

ooiintry for Siena Leone. When I arriyed, I found Mr. Bickersteth
there ; he appointed me to a place then called Hogbrook, now Regent's
Town. I coaiesa that when I arrivedy though I had heard much of the
misery of the heathen^ I never could have imagined that they were so
'wretched, and so cruelly treated by slave-dealers, as I found the poor
creatures liberated from the slave-ships had been. Many were very ill,
firoxn having been packed so dose in those vessels ; six or eight died
daily ; others bore the marks of the slave-trader's whip ; so that the
whole was a most distressing sight. I felt indeed, so discouraged, that
if it had been possiUe to withdraw, I believe I ^should have done so.
This sight at aaee brought me very low, I had been much depressed at
aea, on aooount of the many dear Christian friends whom I had left
hehiad : but now it i^peared to me as if I were cast out of the world,
with misery all aiound me, and no Christian communion. Even now,
when I reflect on the situation which I was then in, I cannot help ad-
miring the goodness of my Merciful Redeemer, for sustaining me iu the
hour of trial. I was enabled to carry all my troubles to the throne of
giraoe ; and, through reading and meditation, I found my mind en-
couraged to persevere. I was held up by the word of Grod. He en-
abled me to go on : those passages — ' My grace is sufficient for thee,'
and ' My strength is made perfSect in weakness,' still upheld me in
this trying hour.

" When I first went among the negroes, after I had armed myself

with the Bible, I told them why I came ; I was not come to use diem

cruelly, as they had been before used : but I was come to tell them

how they might be saved, and enjoy eternal happiness through the

death of Jesus Christ. They gave little heed to me, though I visited

them from day to day ; aad to my great mortification, on Sunday only

nine hearers came, and these ahaost naked I I was much discouraged ;

however, I went on the next week, and told them again why I came, and

tried to persuade them to come and hear God's word ; and that if

they derired to learn to read God's book, the Bible, I would instruct

them. The following Sunday, more came than my cottage would

hdd : and afterwards we were obliged to leave the house for a shed.

The next morning I opened school, as I had told them on Sunday, at

nine o'clock m the morning ; and to my surprise, but it was a pleasant

surprise, I was so happy as to see ninety boys, and fifty girls, and

tbirty-six adults. I was at a loss how to begin with so many, they

had never seen a book, and having such a large number at once, I

knew not what to do. However, I selected twelve of the most promising

looking boys, and taught them the four first letters according to

Bell's system. When they knew these, I divided them into twelve

classes, and made oneteach each class. When they had taught their

respective classes, I taught those boys four other letters, till they had

o 2

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sunnoanted the whole alphabet; and in a twelvemonthy aonie ooold
read a little in the Testament and Bible.

Online LibrarySamuel Abraham WalkerThe Church of England mission in Sierra Leone: including an introductory ... → online text (page 27 of 73)