Samuel Abraham Walker.

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

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" Many times, when I had warned the people to flee from the wratk
to oome, and take refoge in a crucified SaTionr, I had altar aernet
the great mortification of visits from some of my hearers, eitber to be
paid for attending, or to receive something on some other aoooonL
Against this I set my face, and constantly spoke against sach sort of

''My labours increased, as more negroes arrived from aiaive-
vessels ; I had now to provide for 1,000 individuals, to whom I bad
to issue rations twice a week ; and thus I was so much tried^ thai I
was many times on the point of giving up all : but the prospect of
bringing some to the knowledge of Christ enabled me to endure. I
oontinued speaking to as many as came, morning and evening, aad
three times on Sundays ; but saw no signs of real conversion to God.
I thought again, that all would be in vain. The rains were now very
severe ; this increased my trouble ; but in that dreary time, I received
some letters both from the Society and from other friends, wiiidi
greatly comforted and encouraged me. Meanwhile, the people im-
proved much in outward things, and became industrious. Such as had
lived in forests and bushes, came and begged a lot in the town ; the
streets were regularly laid out, and houses built. They had then few
dothes ; but they began to work hard in order to procure them, to
appear in on Sundays. On the whole, they made, in twelve months* a
progress which astonished many who visited us.

*' A Church had been building, which when finished, contained 500
persons. It was filled as soon as opened ; it was then enlarged for
700 ; and was again filled^ as soon as opened. One Sunday, the
Governor, seeing no room in the Church, said, * We must take one end
of the Church down and make it as large again.' This was done, and it
now contains 1300 people ; and for two years, it has been crowded
every Sunday three times a day. A great progress was undoubtedly made^
which was very gratifying, but still there was no satisfactory evidence
of conversion to God ; and I was tempted to think my labour in vain.
I made it a subject of earnest prayer, that God would give me, if but
one soul, I should then say, with Simeon of old, '' Lord ! now lettest
Thou Thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy

" One evening, when I had been praying, and was much cast down,
a young man followed me, and said, ' Massa, me want to speak about
my heart.' I asked him what he had to say about his heart. ' For
some time, Massa, three weeks, my heart bad too much. When I
he down, or get up, or eat, or drink, me think about sins committed
in my own country, and sins since me came Regent's Town ; and me

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MR. Johnson's early success. 197.

doii*t know what to do.' I found what his wants were, and thanked
God that I was enabled to point him to /'the Lamb of God which
taketh away the sins of die world." He rejoiced and wept very
much ; and has continued to this day, so far as I know, to shew forth
a conduct and conversation to the praise and glory of God. I went
Kome, and thanked God that he had heard my prayer.

" In the following week, several more came. One woman was

much distressed, and wept, and said she had two hearts which troubled

ber so much, that she did not know what to do. One was the new

lieart, that told her all things that she had ever been doing. The

same heart told her that she must go to Jesus Christ, and tell Him all

her sins, as she had heard at Church ; but her old heart told her,

never mind, God no save black man, but white man. How know He

died for black man ? Her new heart said. Go, cry to Him and ask.

Old heart tell me, do my work first, fetch water, make fire, wash,

and then go pray. When work done, then me forget to pray. I

don't know what to do.' I read to her the seventh chapter to the

Romans, and shewed her that the apostle Paul felt the same things, and

spoke of two principles in man. When I came to the verse, ** Oh

wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of thb

death ? " she said, ' Ah Massa, that me — me no know what to do.'

I added the words of St. Paul, << I thank God, through Jesus Christ,'*

and explained to her the love of Christj how he died for sinners like

her ; she burst into tears, and has continued ever since, so far as I

know, to follow her Saviour.

" I mig^t mention many such instances, did time permit. Soon after,
on a Sunday, twenty-one adults, one boy, and three infimts were bap-
tized. From that time, great were my encouragements : yet not with-
out trials, from frequent illness, deaths on every side, and disappoint-
ments concerning some who set out with great zeal, but soon turned
again into their former courses. All these trials have been the means
of humbling me, and I have now reason to thank God for every cross
that he has been pleased to lay upon me.

" From time to time, I admitted such to baptism and the Lord's
Supper, as shewed, in their life and conversation, that Divine grace had
began its'work in their hearts. When I left, on the 23rd of April,
there were 263 communicants ; and on Easter Sunday, I baptized 110
adults and 6 infants, and administered the Lord's Supper to 253 blacks
and 4 whites, including myself. As soon as the people felt the power
of religion in their hearts, they desired that their countrymen should
know the same ; some would go into the woods, in the week-days, and
read to them passages in the Bible ; and, early on Sunday mornings,
they would go and tell their country-men what the Lord had done for
their souls. They were thus the instruments of bringing many to

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Regent's Town to hear the gospel. The Lord's Day ia kept among as
in this manner. At six o'clock, we meet for family prayer. Then
the twelve older communicants go and visit the sick : and if they
know any place where the people do not attend^ they go and invite
them to come to Divine service. At ten, the hell rings, but it is often
of no use, the church being filled by half past nine : at half past ten,
the bell rings again ; when we begin the service, by singing a hymn,
kfter which I read the morning prayers. All are present when I read
the exhortation. I have never, or very seldom, observed one individual
to come in after it. Then, another hymn, then after a short prayer,
the sermon,. At three o'clock, and again at seven, all attend pubfic
worship, P rarely miss any of them, all are in the habit of attending —
husband — ^wife, and children — leaving their houses locked up. Be-
tween the service, the families sometimes by themselves, and at others
several famihes together, are employed in singing and prayer, and
this in every quarter of the town. After evening service they retire to
their houses ; and I have, many times, heard singing in the town t31
even past midnight.

"On week-days, we have family prayer, morning and evening, in the
church : and never less than 500 attend, sometimes 900, or it is ftiU.
After evening service, an adult school u held till nine, when they re-
turn to family duties.

" My feelings on resuming my labours, differ in some respects from
those with which I first went to Africa. I have not to go to a people
altogether in heathen darkness ; but my business is now, not only ' to
turn from darkness to light/ but to 'build up' the people of God 'in
their most holy faith : ' and ' Who is sufficient for these thiags ? Ali
our sufficiency is of God.'

" 1 am going out, I trust, in the same spirit in which I went four
years ago—leaning entirely on the strength of the Lord. The climate,
it is true, is still very unhealthy, and some of my dearest friends and
brethren in the Lord have fallen victims to it since my departure ; but,
by the grace of God, none of these things move me. I am ready to
go to Sierra Leone, and die there for the name of the Lord Jesus ,- and,
while 1 am speaking thus, I doubt not but I speak the language of the
friends who are about to accompany me. Who indeed, can read the
animatmg reports of the departure of our brethren and sisters in the
faith, without being encouraged, instead of being cast down. We go
then, in the name of the Lord ; determined, by his grace, to know
nothing among men save Jesus Christ and him crucified."

As a sequel to the above, we insert the last quarterly Report pre-
sented by this devoted servant of God, to his assembled brethren,
the Missionaries and Chaplains of the Colony — on Lady-Day, 1823.

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Mft. Johnson's last refoet. 199

*^ Dear brethren — grace to you and peace from God our Father and
from the Lord Jesus Christ.

** Again it has pleased the Lord our God to spare ns to labor in His
▼inejrard, and to prosper us in the work of loTe which . He has given
us to do. It is true, I have suffered, and continue to suffer much
from ophthalmia ; but I trust that even this is among the ' all things *
that * shall work together for good.'

'* As it respects Regent's Town, the work of the Lord is proceeding
as hefore. Divine service has been regularly attended by the commu-
nicants and the other inhabitants : the schools continue to improve.
We have had several additions to our congregation and the schools, by
the arrivals of slave-vessels ; and our population now amounts to up-
ward of 2000 persons. The people behave quietly and orderly, so
that we have very few palavers, indeed less than ever before.

" I stated, in my last, that we had fifty candidates under trial and
instruction, for the holy ordinance of baptism, one of them, a woman,
has since died in the faith ; and another, a man, has been excluded for
improper conduct : the remaining forty-eight, will, if it please our gra-
cious God, be baptized on Easter-Sunday. The youths in the seminary
continue to ' walk worthy of their high vocation wherewith they are
called.' They have made considerable progress in their studies, and
promise well for future usefulness ; indeed their conduct is such, that
I think it my duty to notice it in my present Report.

The number of scholars is as follows : —

Boys residing in the school-house 1 95

Boys, residing with thdr parents 5S


Girk residing in the school-house 180

Girls residing with their parents 50


Men's evening-school 561

Women's evening-school 20

Christian Institution 27

Total schokrs 1079

** There are 710 persons who can read.

'< The number of the communicants, with the addition of the forty-^
eight candidates mentioned above, wiU be about 450.

** Our last anniversary of the Regent's Town Branch Missionary
Association was very interesting. The collection after the meeting
amounted to £\0 : 6 : 0^. The new people receive half rice and half

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cocoa, or cassada; since October last, 7470 bushels of caasa ci a, and
1421 bushels of cocoa have been issued; and there is now enough in
the people's farms to supply them with half rations throughout the year.
" The new road to the sea is nearly completed. Some of the peo|rie
have begun to trade in the country ; one canoe has been purchased,
and another hired for that purpose : one man has ah^eadj dehvered two
tons and sixteen bushels of rice. The fishery has commenced, and
promises to become a permanent benefit to the town. May the God
of Abraham, of Isaac^ and- of Jacob, the Triune and our covenant
Jehovah, be praised for His continual mercies toward vta, in carrying
on this glorious work. And may He be pleased to keep us humble at
the foot of the cross."

Several letters from African Christians addressed to their beloved
pastor, arrived in England before intelligenoe of his death readied tiie
colony. These all breathed a spirit of the livelist attachment to him
and ardent longing for his return. They speak of the prosperous con-
dition of Regent's Town, and the attention of Mr. Norman to the spiri-
tual interests of its people. We r^et that want of space oompeb
us to omit these valuable documents — one or two extracts howeyer, we
must find room for as a specimen of them alL One of the native teaek-
ers wrote thus :

*' Deae and Rev. Sir>

*' I have sent these few lines to you, for I have not much words to
write at this time, and therefore I only write about myself and the
people. My wish is to serve tbe Lord Jesus Christ, and to follow
Him, but my own heart is so deceitful that I sometimes cry out like
St. Paul, 'O wretched man that I am, who shall deUver me from this
body of sin and death ! ' And when I consider that beyond the grave
comes the judgment, I am afraid, but I pray, and hope that tbe
Lord who has helped me wiU still help, for He is faithful to His pro-
mises. My wife is very sorry that she did not shake hands with
you before you go, and she begs you to forgive her because she
did not know the time you went ; and give her love to Mrs. Johnson.

" Since you been gone, the people are very quiet and steady ; and
plenty come to Church and are attentive. The candidates too, go on

'' I hope the Lord may keep you, and bring you back again, and
Mrs. Johnson. Give my love to her and all the good people in Eng-

One ot tne scuaems m the Institution thus wrote :

" May God bring you back to us in safety if it be His will, to '
preach Christ's unsearchable riches to us sinners, and may all the good
people in England, who are very much concerned for A^ca, pray for

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the time when she shall be deliyered out of her ignorance ; and may
you remember us in yonr prayers ! Tell Mr. Pratt and Mr. Bicker-
steth, and all the Society, we thank them heartily for all their good-
ness to us ; and we pray that God may reward them. May (rod Al-
in%hty help you, and prosper you in all your journey, and I pray that
tlie liord may g;iye you utterance to speak boldly in His name, that it
may be the means of stirring up the good people in England to come to
the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty,
for the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. I am
sure if the good people of England knew what a wretched state the
people of Africa are in, they would come over and help us."

' Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.' He that was the
happy instrument of turning many to righteousness, departed in peace.
He had * fought the good fight — he had finished his course — ^he had
kept the faith ' — ^to him doubtless it shall be given to shine as a star of
the first magnitude for ever and ever. May our last end be like his.

We are yet far from having done with the dismal task of tracing the
finger of death. We are next to behold the Rev. Samuel Flood, first
Cdomal Chaplain, within his ruthless grasp. It had been decided
that Mr. and Mrs. Flood, having resided for upwards of three years in
Africa, should enjoy a short sojourn in Europe for the benefit of Mrs.
Flood's health, which had been failing. Accordingly they embarked
for England on Saturday the drd of May, the day on which dear John-
son breathed his last.

'* Mr. Flood had been attacked with fever the day before they set
sail, and was consequently indisposed at starting, but it was hoped
that the sea air would restore him. In the councils of Infinite Wisdom,
however, another issue was determined. Mrs. Flood subsequently
furnished a, brief narrative of the occurrences on board, preceding her
husband's decease. We shall make it the medium of communicating
the melancholy event.

'* As soon as we got on board, my husband was obliged to go to
bed. The next day, Sunday, I thought him somewhat better, though
the fever was not abated. He did not complain of any pain ; nor did
I think that he apprehended any danger till Monday morning, when I
heard him giving directions to a young man whom we brought with us,
respecting some things which he wished him to attend to in case of
his death. I immediately said to him, I am afraid you apprehend
some danger, and expressed my hope that he would tell me what he
thought of himself. He said, ' It is impossible to say how the fever
may tehninate ; but I think this sickness is unto death ; ' and added,
that I must prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. He en-
deavoured to console me with many precious promises, and said, * I

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■m aasnred that die Lord will not forsake yoo ' — feminding me of his
goodness to ns during the last three jears^ He said, ' I know if the
Lord is about to take me, it will be for my good and His own gkiiy/
' I could perceive that he was gvadnally growing weaker^ and that no
hope could be entertained of fab leoonrery. He 8aid« ' Parget not to
pray for me : perhaps the Lord may hear prayer, and add a few years
to my life.' On Tuesday morning between one and two o'dodE, he
was seized with a hiccough, which is a presage of death. I requested
therefore, to be taken to him ; as I was anxious to know the state of
his mind in the prospect of his departure. I asked him how he felt
himself : he said, * I know I am going.' I then aaked^ * Are you
happy ? ' he answered, * At times, my sins, both of omission and com-
mission, distress me ; but I trust, that, through the merits of my
Saviour, aU will be well.' Seeing me much affected, he desired me
not to weep ; and said that the Lord would be my hnshand, and that
we should be separated but for a short time. He then -took mj hands
between his own (which were as cold as death) and prayed most afiec-
tionately and fervently that the Lord would support me, and be with
me in all my tnals. His foith appeared strong in the promiaes^ par-
ticularly those that are applicable to the widow. Aflter praying that
the Lord would be with him, and conduct him safely through the
dark valley of the shadow of death, he took a final leave of me.

*' For several hours after, he was somewhat delirious. All that he
said referred to the people among whom he had laboured, and was ex-
pressive of earnest desires for their salvation.

** Having been removed from him to another part of the vessel, he
inquired for me several times, a few hours before he died : and always
expressed his confidence that the Lord would be my refoge and strength,
and a present help in trouble. He was asked, would he wish to see me
again, but said, No, he thought it better that I was removed.

" He died about half-past aix on Tuesday morning, the 6th of May,
three days after we went on board."

Mr. Flood possessed the true spirit of a Missionary, and althoi^h
not immediately in connexion with the Society, he was always ready
to fulfil his task as an apostle to the perishing millions of Africa*
His meat was to do the will of his heavenly Father, and to finish his
work ; much as he needed rest, and longed for the temporary refresh-
ment of kindred and home, he would joyfrilly have submitted to any in-
dication of the Divine will in reference to his continuance at his post.
On the 15th of March preceding his departure he wrote : —

" I can truly say that no inducement woidd draw us from this place,
if we supposed that we should therein be acting contrary to the will
of our heavenly Father. He has caused His goodness so to abound

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toward ns, that it would be the height of ingratitude in us to do any-
thing, or to act in any way concerning onrselves that would displease
Him. We do love Him, we trusty and therefore we study conformi-
ty to His wlU. Permit ns then to solicit at this time, a special in-
terest in yonr prayers. Pray that He will prevent us with His grace
and Spirit ; that He will be every linng to us while homeward bound,
and that he will conduct ns safely to our desired haven."

The Eev. Henry Palmer, second Chaplain of the colony, had been
for some years in the army previous to his entering the ministry, and
in his military capacity had resided in various climates, which gave him
a great advantage over his brethren in Sierra Leone ; his constitution
having become inured to the great change which Europeans must sub-
mit to in that respect on the western coast of Africa, where they are
not only scorched by a tropical sun, but subject to sudden transitions
of climate, most inimical to the human frame.* Under ordinary cir-
cnmstances there was every rpason to expect that Mr. Palmer's con-
stitution would, with the Divine blessing, have long resisted the
vicissitudes of African temperature, and a protracted career of useful-
ness been vouchsafed to him from on high, but all human calculations
are vain ; the direful fever then desolating the coast exposed the fallacy
of man's reasonings. Mr. Palmer, who in a letter ^m Freetown,
dated the second of May, was said to be exerting himself to supply Mr.
Flood's place during the absence of the latter, was numbered with the
dead on the eighth. In a day or two after Mr. Flood's departure he
caught the fever: —

'* Our dear Mr. Palmer," wrote Norman, schoolmaster of Regent,
** was taken ill on Sunday, May the drd^ while preaching from John
xvii. 1, * Father! the hour is come!' He went however through the
whole service and afterward administered the sacrament. In the even-
ing he came up to my house, where Mrs. Palmer was staying. He
was then in a burning fever, and appeared much alarmed. He observed
soon after he came in, that he believed if he never had another oppor-
tunity of speaking to his congregation, he had then faithAilly declared
the truth. He repeated the words ' Father ! the hour is come,' with
peculiar solemnity and was much affected. We had no apprehension
of danger till Wednesday morning, when we fbmiA that he had the
black vomit ; consequently had no hope of his recovery. Mrs. Nor-
man apprised Mrs. Palmer of this, and Dr. Shower confirmed the
afflicting information. She received it with Christian fortitude,
and immediately communicated it to Mr. Palmer. He was rather
surprised, but soon recollected himself, and prayed that the will
of the Lord might be done. His disorder was of such a nature
as made it impossible for him to speak much, but what he said
* Seo pp. 8, 9, of the preceding volume.

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shewed that his treasure was in heayen, that his hope and confidence
were in Christ. He was often heard to say, ' Christ is precious/ and
to utter similar expressions. He was very frequent in prayer till about
about six hours before his death, when he was generally in m stupM'.
About an hour before he died, Mrs. Palmer sent for me, and we prayed
by his side. Mrs. Palmer afterwards repeated the twenty-third
Psalm, when he opened his eyes, smiled, and soon after expired, at
eleven o'clock in the eTening of the 7th of May. He was buried the
next day at Regent ; such of the brethren as could come attended,
with the natiye teachers, the youths in the seminary, and many of the
elder communicants."

"He died," adds his afflicted widow, "trusting in the blood whieh
cleanseth from all sb. Oh how he has laboured for his Lord, since
he came to this land of darkness ! and now he has entered into rest.

"At Regent's Town where he died, that blessed, highly-blessed
place, he is buried."

" There cannot be a more honourable death," said Nylander, " than
that of the late Mr. Pahner. Had he died in the battle of Waterloo
when he fought there, he would have died as a braye soldier, in die
service of his king and country, and his death would have been
counted honourable ; but here he died in the battle which he had b^;un
to fight in the service of the King of kings and the Lord of lords ;
and nothing less than a crown of eternal glory which fadeth not
away is his reward."

We have now recorded the fall of five soldiers of the cross, in the
arms of eternal victory. They were all married men^ and at the time
of Mr. Palmer's removal a melancholy society of four newly-made
widows, (Mrs. Flood being in England,) attested the perils of Mis-
sionary enterprise, and the sincerity of Missionary zeal. Within less
than a month all four had been happy wives, and some of them were
looking forvrard to be happy mothers. Their earthly path was now
desolate, their prospect dreary, but as they did not come to Africa lean-
ing only on their human supports, when these failed them they were
not utterly cast down. One of them out of the depth of her affliction
could say, and doubtless the others could echo her sentiments : —

" He who cannot err, whose love to his people never can fail, has

Online LibrarySamuel Abraham WalkerThe Church of England mission in Sierra Leone: including an introductory ... → online text (page 28 of 73)