Samuel Abraham Walker.

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

. (page 49 of 73)
Online LibrarySamuel Abraham WalkerThe Church of England mission in Sierra Leone: including an introductory ... → online text (page 49 of 73)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

you nowoHne to me for, did you ever go to class-meeting ? ' * Yes, when
Mr. Toungvras here.' * Do you think that what you did was wrongf
'Tea, Sir, it is sin before God. I have folbwed my own heart, I have
no peace, I am afraid to die.' < Can I give yon peace, or who an
give you peace? ' *No, you cannot give me peace; your word break
my heart down, the time you were preaching the last year; Jesos alone
ean give me peace.' ' When did my word break your heart ? ' 'The
time you baptised people, you preached to backshders ; yon said,
many who had been baptized, and bad, received the sacrament, had
gone away and lived in sins ; and could not go to heaTcn, because

Digitized by



they did not abide in Christ. When I heard it^ I said, I am one, I
did make agreement with God* but I break it ; my work not finished,
I am sorry for my sins.' 'You said that Christ alone could give you
peace, and forgive your sins ; do you believe that He forgave you ? '
* Yea, because he has kept me to this day, and has not punished me
for my sins.' ' Do you not fear that He will punish you in the next
world ? ' ' I am afhdd to die, I have no peace, I have no hope ; what
shall I do?' 'Return to God with all your heart, confess your sin%
pray for the forgiveness of all, for the Saviour's sake.' "

The journals of the Missionaries are tlus year also abundantly sup-
plied with proofs of the obstinate adherence of the natives, although
professing Christianity, to the superstitious usages of their country.
•We fear to encroach on our limits too far, but cannot forbear inserting
the following two cases firom Mr. Kissling's journal : —

'* I will mention on this occasion," he writes, " two cases of super-
stition, which I observed with much grief. A child of a communi-
cant had a cushion tied to his neck, when attending our Sunday-scho<d
at the chapel; on inquiring of the parent and sponsor what the
cushion signified, I was informed, that the boy was bom with a mem-
brane encompassing his head, which was sewed up in the cushion,
and that he wore it ' to keep him from sickness and fits of fright.'
My arguments against the superstitious practice availed very little,
the individuals indeed consented that the charm should no more be
brought to school ; but the importance which they attach to it, I be-
lieve, remains still the same.

" At another time, when I had to attend a burial, I noticed at the
house from whence the funeral proceeded, a basin of water with strong
smelling leaves in it ; in which the mourners, on their return from the
grave, formally washed their hands, to prevent, as I was afterwards
told, the departed soul from pursuing them. It is not to be wondered
at, that such a superstitious practice should exist among heathens, for
the rilest of them believe in the immortality of the soul, and the best
of them have fears on account of it ; but to see religious professors
join in it, is grievous, yea, disgraceful. But such occurrences, painful
as they are^ do not discourage us in our work."

A more degrading form of superstition perhaps, cannot be conceived
than one that came under the observation of Mr. Warburton, who thus
refers to it in his journal-^

''Sept. 17, 1836. Had a conversation with one of my helpers,
whom I had requested some time ago to go to a dark part of the
village, inhabited by his country-people ; many of whom are idokiters
and know little of the Eng^sh language. He obtained permission to
hold a weekly meeting in one of dieir houses ; but shortly after, an

Digitized by



apprentice falling sick of the small-pox, the owner said, that ' meeting
should no longer be kept there,' adding ' jon know that this thing no like
noise in our country.' I inquired what the man meant, and was told,
that in their country, the Aku, the people worship the small^poz,
under the name of Shapoona ; a being who, they imagine, presides
over this disease, and to whom they offer sheep and goats, that he
may not afflict them. When any one has this disorder, they also
offer sacrifices ; and if the person die, they will not suffer any one to
ciy and lament, as is customary when a death occurs ; but they give
praise to him, and say, ' He do what he please,' to shew that they do
not grieve. This they do through fear."

Enquirers after spiritual peace now sought the Missionaries in great
numbers, and a trembling concern for eternal salvation was awakened
in the minds of many. We almost fear to venture on an example^
warned by the increasing bulk of this volume, but we cannot altoge^
ther pass over the numerous instances furnished by the Missionaries in
their joumab. We select a case of painful solicitude for the souls'
eternal welfare, from the journal of Jdin Attarra, written from Hast-
ings, of which place he was catechist —

" I took a walk this afternoon to converse with the people on the
state of their souls. As I entered a house and began to speak to the
owner, he exclaimed, ' I am lost, I am lost ! ' This led me to request
him to explain to me the meaning of such an expression. He then
said, ' I am afraid to die, and go to eternity, I have no hope of getting
to heaven if I were now to die, because I have done a great sin. I was
once a member of the Church, but through a gross sin, I have been
put out.' I begged him to let me know the particular sin, which
troubled him so much, and which caused him to despond of hope.
He replied, that he had once attempted to murder himself with a knife,
which caused him to be carried to the hospital ; and since his return,
he has been Uving without going to a pubhc place of worship. I
endeavoured to offer him some comfort, by repeating many suitable
passages of scripture to him ; and also advised him to pray to God for
the pardon of his sin, through the application of the blood of the Son^
of God, and fr^uently to attend church."

Would that the Mission possessed many such native assistants as John
Attarra; a few more there were of the same stamp. Mr. Warburton
refers to one of his at Kissey, who seems to have been able to express
himself as a Christian Teac&er. May such a spirit be given to many
of us at home. Mr. Warburton says —

" One of my helpers came to tell me that he had visited a part of
the village where the people did not attend the house of God. He
said that he had exhorted them to do so, and that, as they were
willing to provide a lamp and oil, he desired to commence a weekly

Digitized by



meeting, for prayer and reading the Scriptures, with such as were
willing to attend. I encouraged his desires, but told him to consider,
whether he could continue it with regularity, as he had one meeting
already to attend to. He answered, ' I will give myself to prayer, that
I may not wear out.' On my expressing my wish that he would never
neglect to take his Bible with him, as his guide, he exclaimed, ' What
can I do without my Bible ? ' "

Mr. H. Townsend's first impressions regarding the mode of observing
the Lord's day in Sierra Leone, will be read with peculiar satisfiiction :
** No one arriving here would imagine that he was in a country, the
inhabitants of which have been accustomed to idolatry, but in one
where Grod had been many years worshipped in spirit and in truth.
The solemn stillness of the day of rest reigns around ; business and
work are laid aside ; and numbers of both sexes are seen hastening to
school, to learn to read, and to be instructed in the Christian religion.
All are dean, and as well-dressed as their circumstances will allow ;
some of the men in a white or blue striped shirt, with a pair of white
trowsers and straw hat ; others with the addition of a jacket, in which
they look remarkably well. The women are dressed in various
coloured gowns, some with a kerchief tied round their heads, others
with straw hats. At school, which was well attended, they were
most attentive and diligent in learning to read, and repeating the
catechism which they had been taught. The first classes read in
the Bible and Testament very well, and listen with much attention
to any explanation which may be given of the passage they are read-
ing. The lower classes also use every effort to get over the first
steps in reading ; which is no small task for persons who may be forty,
fifty, or sixty years old. Sincerely must they desire to read God's
holy word, when they take so much trouble to learn. During divine
service they were attentive and devout, each one performing his or her
part in the public worship of the day. This b the first Lord's day
which I have passed in Sierra Leone : and if every one be kept by the
people as this has been, it shows that they honour God's laws, and
that the Spirit of God has been with them, teaching, and guiding
them in the path of holiness, to the praise and glory of that grace
which has called them from darkness to light."

The same testimony is bom by Mr. Kissling in favour of Freetown ;
with a contrast very disgraceful to European notions of religious obliga-
tions, in the same place :

'* Before I dose my remarks on this station (Eissey) I cannot but
express the high satisfaction which I have felt with regard to the im-
provement that has taken place at Freetown, in observing the Lord's
day. Nearly all the people, whom I have seen moving about in the
streets on that holy day, were either coming from or going to a place

Digitized by



of worship : onlj a few EuropeuiSy md some coloured persons — and,
oil shame, that it should be sol — were ttidng a ride or a drive Ibr
thdr pleasure."

Something like a realiong of the hopes and prajera of the friends
of the West Afriea mission, took place at the dose of this year : at
least like a streak of light in the east, it seemed to sa j, that the lon^
looked-for day was at hand. The occurrence is thus rdated by the
Bey. C. F. Schon :

** December 14, 1836. Married three couples at Hastings. There
was another who wished to be married, from Waterloo ; bat as bis
name was not correctly entered, I could not solemnize the marriage.
One of their companions showed a great concern £6r the young party ;
and inquired several times, how it could be arranged that they might
be married soon. On asking the reason of his anxiety about it, he
told me, that they had sgreed to go to the Sherbro' country to preach,
after the solemnization of the marriage. This is an instance of rare
occurrence, that persons who have been benefitted by the gospel in this
Colony, have of their own accord, gone to neighbouring tribes to
preach the gospel of Christ. The Mahomedans all around are la-
bouring to persuade Gentiles to embnuse their creed ; while nothing
is done by Christians to prepare the way for the introdaction of

*' After a series of fidls, separations, persecations, sickness and
death," says Mr. William Toung, in a letter dated July 2, 1836,
^^ and amidst all the power of the enemy, tii^e perhaps never waa
an era in the history of the West African Mission, when it was in a
httt&t or sounder state than now. We indeed have nothing to boast
of; but we are sometimes permitted to rejoice, yet with trembling.
Idolatry is not so glarii^ ; the heatiien are not so bdd, though they
worship their idob in secret. I have seen them blu^ when they
have been reasoned with on the folly of their idol-worship ; and have
left them in much confrision. May the Lord open their hearts to
attend unto the things which are spoken. Though one and anothtt of
our commmiicanta fall into sin, others are becoming more deeply
rooted in the £uth of Jesus Christ, and are growing in the grace of

Digitized by





Thb Misaon received no accession of stiength for the greater part of
the year 1837^ for it was not nntU the 4th of December that a fresh
body of labourers arrived in the Colony ; we may therefore consider
that as far as means were concerned during the year upon which we
are now entering, no improTcment can be spoken of; while the de-
paitnre of the Rev. G. A. SLissling for England on account of his
health* on the 6th of March, and that of the Rev. J. M. Graf on die
8th of August, to receive priest* s orders, to which may be added the
return home of Mr. Collins on the Ist of October, fiir a similar reason
as that which influenced Mr. Kissling, and the death of Mrs. Sdion,
wife of the Bev. J. F. Schon, on the 9th of November, tended materi-
ally to weaken the Missionary staff, and consequently to embarrass the
open^ons of the remaining laborers.

West Africa, along a considerable line of coast, proved this year,
during ike wet seas<m, peculiarly trying to the constitutions of Euro-
peans. In the early purt of the year, nearly aU. the members of the
Society's missionaries were affected with illness. The yellow fever
broke out in Freetown, and proved fiUal to many of the European re-
sidents, but the Missionaries were most providentially spared, and not
a single case of death from fever occurred among them during the year,
a&ihouf^ many of them were modi enfeebled by disease.

Freetown had fer some time enjoyed the ministerial services of the
Chaplain, the Bev. D. F. Morgan, and therefore was not properly a
Missionary station. Gibraltar town, however, a suburb of the capital,
was occupied by the Society, and the Missionary Chapel there had
been constantly served by one or other of the Society's labourers. The

Digitized by



congregation had gradually increased, espedallj on Sonday moming,
beyond the accommodation proyided, and the communicants were re-
ported to walk generally worthy of their high Tocation. The Sunday
school attached to the Chapel was also in a flourishing condition. Mr.
Graf, writing in March 1837, says of Gibraltar Chapel :

''As regards this place of worship, in which divine service is held
twice on Sunday, and once in the week, I can say, that I have be^i
pleased with the r^ular attendance of the people on the Sunday
morning service ; when the Chapel is not only AiU, but a good nombcnr
of children with their mothers, sit outside. The same, however, can-
not be said of their attendance in the week, and on Sunday eTenuigs.
One of those whom I ' had to bury, was a member of our Chapel ; he
had been a backslider for some time, but was re-admitted upon better
conduct. I saw him a few days before his death suffering very much.
From the short conversation which I had with him, he seemed to con-
sider his illness as a means by which €rod was graciously pleased to
lead him to seek Him more earnestly, and to be more anxious about
the salvation of his soul. From the Uttle which I saw of this man, I
can hope that he has been received into the assembly of those who
have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.

Freetown presented a strange medley of Christians, Heathens, and
Mahommedans. A sketch taken on Good Friday by the hand of Mr.
William Toung, the society's catechist, brings thb fact in a lively
maimer before us :

'* March 24, 1837 ; Good Friday. I held divine service in Gib-
raltar Chapel in the morning. It was very pleasing to see all the
shops closed, and all labour and traffic laid aside. The people were
seen resorting to their different places of pubUc worship, to keep holy-
day. A company of the settlers were performing a country-dance, a
short distance from my house : to whom I went down. Ajfter many
efforts to get a hearing, the drumming and shouting ceased. I said,
* I am come to make palaver (quarrel^) but is this the way you keep
the day holy ? ' A woman repUed, ' We are aU drunk : we will not
hear you/ Another said, ^ We have been drinking yonder ' — ^pointing
to a neighbouring house : ' and nobody troubled us.' One said, ' We
will flog you« if you do not go off.' Another gave me a push, one
would dance with me. Another said, ' O go home ! ' I replied, ' Ton
are speaking to your own condemnation : you ought not to do so ; y<m
ought to keep this day, by humbling yourselves before God, confeanng
your sins — and imploring his forgiveness for the sake of Jesus Christ,
who died for you upon the cross.' A man said, ' Do not get into a
bad humour with us.' I replied, ' I am a messenger of peace : I am
not come to make you palaver ; but your rioting and drunkenness is

Digitized by



proToking to the God of peace^ whose dear Son you are neglecting."
They then began their sport again ; and I was obliged to leave them.
However, they ceased altogether in about ten minutes after I had left
them, and quietly dispersed."

Hitherto there had been no day school in Gibraltar town, and the
Missionaries resolved on opening one there. The task was committed
to Mr. Young, who thus describes his success :

''Jan. 2, 1837. This morning at nine o'clock, I opened a day-
school in Gibraltar town, Freetown. Previous notice had been given
to the inhabitants of this district, that the school would be opened
an the first Monday in January ; and the news had spread far and wide
in this populous town : immediately after the bell had been rung, it
was a cheering sight to see parents, with their children, hastening to
the Chapel, from all quarters, and in a few minutes the Chapel was
crowded to excess, the people rushing into it. It was impossible to
command order, until I reftised to admit their children, and begged
them to go out. I then admitted 1 1 4 children into the school : many
of the people said, < Thank God ! thank you, master ; — ^we give our
children to you, to do with them as you like.'

'* Jan. 3. Many persons were waiting at the Chapel this morning,
with their children. I admitted 30, in addition to the 114 yesterday.
I then selected monitors, and appointed them to dasses ; though they
are deficient even in the first rudiments of learning. The school is
divided into thirteen classes."

He subsequently says : "The boys' delight is arithmetic. Reading
the Scriptures appears to be a very dull exercise to them : and when
they are catechiased on the portion of scripture which they have just
read, in order to explain the doctrines and precepts of the Bible, their
mouths are shut. Many of my scholars have never attended any
means of instruction, since they were at the Colonial boys' school,
when it was relinquished by the Society in 1835."

We have mentioned Mahommedans, as forming part of the popular
tion of Freetown : we may add unhappily, that they abound all over the
Colony, and are generally very active in making proselytes to their
creed. The Missionaries frequently encountered them, and did not,
as may be supposed, omit any opportunity of revealing to them the
true Prophet, whom the Lord their God had raised up unto them.
For example, Mr. Schon has the following entiy in his journal :

" Feb. 14. 1837. Keptmoruing prayers in the chapel at half-past
five. I met a Mahommedan in the street, whom I had seen before,
I said, ' Whom do you worship ? * He replied, ' God only.' — ' What
is God ? ' • I do not know. I will fetch my Minister, and he will tell

w 2 c

Digitized by



yoQ sll.' 'But,* I said, 'you oertainlj ought not to be ignorant of
the object ot yonr worship; or you worship yon know not what.
God, who is an Eternal Spirit, infinitely wise, holy, good, and just,
sent His Son Jesus to teach us the knowledge of Himself; and joo
reject Him, to your condemnation.' He replied : ' Mahommed was
bom before Jesus, of the same family ; he was a man like yourself:
he was cousin to Jesus: he was a good man, and has 121 names.*
I said, ' Then he was a man of like passions with onrselyes ; he had
the same propensities to sin as ourselves ; he had the same cormpt
nature as ourselves, and had the same need of an atonement for his
sins as we haye.' He reptied : ' What is a Christian ? ' ' We are so
called on account of our heartily embracing and openly professmg
that religion which Jesus taught ; — that all mankind by nature, are
sinners against God, in thought, word, and deed ; and without repen-
tance, and a true faith in the Son of God, we cannot see eternal liie.*
He said : * I beliere that Jesus is the Son of God : but I do not pray
to Him as you do. I believe Jesus gave all his people to Mahommed :
and God may give Mahommed power to save all His pec^le.' *'

** A Mahommedan blacksmith," writes Mr. Toung in Yob joarnal
dated April 18, "came into my school to-day. It is the first tSme
I have seen a Mahommedan so curious as to visit a Christian school.
I took him from class to class, to shew him the boys writing on
slates, from scripture : he was much gratified by this plan of teaching
boys to write ; and frequently pressed my hand in his, as an expression
of the pleasure afforded him by his visit. He observed, 'The hoys
in my country,' the Foulah, 'write from ri^t to left; but your boys
write frt>m left to right.' This way of teaching to write amused him
much, he was with me nearly an hour, and paid much attention.
When he was going away, he said, • I love you much, for your work's
sake : you are a good man : God be with you, and bless yon. ' I
replied, ' The gospel of Jesus Christ, which I teach, teaches me to
love you also ; and it teaches me that all mankind by nature are
sinners against God, and that there is none good but one, that is,

Death-bed services are among the most painful which devolve on the
Christian minister ; under the most favorable circumstances, the disso*
lution of the body with all its accompanying tokens of sufRering and
decay, is a sad and solemn sight ; but they whose privilege it has been
to witness "how a Christian can die," well know that circumstances
may exist in connection with the most formidable appurtenances of a
dying bed, which more than compensate to the mind of the beholder^
for the tribute of painfrd emotion, which nature pays while contemph^-
ing the last struggles of a fellow being. As we have not much that i«

Digitized by



novel to record in the year now before us, we shall embrace the oppor-
tnnitj of selecting one or two cases, exemplifying the power of faith
in a risen SaTiour to disarm death of its terrors, and gild the downward
passage to the tomb. For this the labors of God's messengers are
employed, and where this result is achieved, no surer testimony can
be obtained to the reality of the work which has been accomplished.
Our first extract shall be from the journal of the Rev. J. W. Weeks.
** April 17. I went again to Regent and yisited several sick per-
sons. I also administered the Lord's Supper to one of the communi-
cants — a poor woman, who has been confined to her house for many
years. J then visited another sick candidate, whom 1 found much
reduced in bodily strength since last week ; and I felt persuaded that
be was fast hastening to another world. He was anxious that I
should baptise him. When I asked him if he thought baptism could
save bis soul, he immediately replied, < Not unless I believe.' I then
told him that our Saviour had declared, that whosoever believed, and
was baptized, should be saved. After a little more conversation with
him about the things which belonged to his peace, I baptised him.
Nine days after, I received the following note from one of our native
assistants stationed at Regent : —

' Rev. Sir, — ^Yesterday, about eight o'clock, the wife of

came to me in great haste, and said, that her husband wished to see
me before he departed. I went accordingly. He was very low then ; he
could not speak, save that he answered me these questions : — * How
do you feel now V he replied, ' I feel very wdl, for I am going home to
my Saviour and my Gk)d' — -'Do you have any doubt in your mind
about your going home ? ' ' No,' replied he. In addition to the
answer of my question, he said, ' My sins are washed in the precioua
blood of Christ : the way is quite open for me : I shall soon go ; the
hour is quite near when my pains shall cease.' — ^These and other sen-
tences he said in a fluttering voice ; I could not understand the rest.
Before I left, he spoke no more ; he peaceably slept in the Lord Jesus
Christ. I rejoiced greatly in the way he spoke : he felt no pain when
he was speaking. Please let me know if you can come to bury him.'

Online LibrarySamuel Abraham WalkerThe Church of England mission in Sierra Leone: including an introductory ... → online text (page 49 of 73)