Page images

EXTRACTS From Instructions of the Executive Committee of the Board of Foreign

Missions to the Rev. Robert W. Sawyer and his Wife, Missionaries to Africa.

[ocr errors]

One of the first sacrifices you are called to make, is to part from your friends and relatives, from father and mother, from brothers and sisters, from those in whose company you have lived so long that their endeared society, has, in a manner, become a part of your existence. This trial is so severe, so painful to flesh and blood, so desolating to the natural feelings of the heart, that many of God's professing people are unwilling to meet it. They cannot give up a beloved son,-they cannot thus part for life with a beloved daughter. But the cause of Christ requires this sacrifice, severe and painful as it is; and when the Saviour's glory is concerned, and the eternal interests of perishing men, these light alllictions which are but for a moment ought not to be even named.

By your own free choice, and with the approbation and sanction of the Executive Committee, Western Africa has been selected as the field of your future labors. A beloved brother has just fallen in that field, and you have been appointed to supply his place. This circumstance throws a more than ordinary degree of solemnity over our present meeting. It is a serious thing to be thus baptized for the dead. But may we not hope that in as much as your appointment has been made, after much prayer to God for his direction, it will meet with his approbation.

Every field of missionary labour has obstacles to the efforts of the church, and discouragements peculiar to itself. In some," the man of sin opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or is worshipped ; so that he as God sittet i in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." In others, the exterminating spirit of the false prophet suspends the sword over every one that turns to the light. Others, again, are prevented by an ignorant despotism from hearing the truth ; and, in others, is the influence of unhealthy climates. This last is the case with Western Africa, and this obstacle is a serious one. Every branch of the church which has engaged in missionary labours there, has found it so. In deciding, therefore, on what is duty, we are called to examine the subject in the light of God's word, and of his providence; and above all, to look to him for wisdom and direction.

The first question to be examined is, shall this field be abandoned,--the missionaries now there withdrawal, and the benighted inhabitants, excluded from the efforts of the church, be left to perish in ignorance and sin ?

Let it be admitted, that to plant the church in Africa, will cause the death of some of God's servants. If we take the example of the apostles for our guidance, we will not find in this a sufficient reason for leaving the millions in this country in the unmolested possession of Satan. It cost Stephen and James t'ieir lives to witness for the Saviour at Jerusaleın ; and Paul was “ readly not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." In view of the bonds and afflictions which every where waited for him, he could say, “ But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” It were easy to multiply examples of the sufferings of the apostles and first Christians, in their labors to build up the church. In no instance did the fear of death deter them from preaching the glorious gospel of the Son of God. They were influenced by his Spirit, and acted in view of his high and holy example.


Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us;

and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

There is a tendency in some minds, to draw an inference against the missionary work from the death of a missionary, which is not thought of in the death of a minister among the churches at home. But this position will not bear examination. Within a few months, how large has been the number of beloved brethren, most of them in the prime of life, who have been called home from their labours, yet no one infers from these dispensations of Divine providence, that it is not the duty of the church to use every means to supply their places. Nay, all agree, that for this purpose, increased efforts, and increased prayer to the Lord of the harvest, together with a deeper humility and repentance for her unfaithfulness becomes the special duty of the church in these seasons of rebuke and affliction. These principles apply in all their force to the death of our dear brethren in the foreign field; and the church is not at liberty to apply one rule of duty in regard to her ministers at home, and another role to her ministers abroad. The word of God makes no such distinction ; the field for her agency is the world. Although there be a risk to human life, in sending to benighted Africa the knowledge of the Saviour, his commission, the spirit that was in him, and the example of his apostles require it to be done. In thus engaging in the Lord's work, the church is not making experiments ; she is but obeying the command of the Saviour; and if she persevere in carrying out His commission, her success is just as certain as that her Redeemer rose from the dead. The redemption of Ethiopia, and her in-bringing to the fold of Christ are in the purpose of God; and her very name is mentioned in his glorious promise. " Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands to God.” Ps. lxviii. 31. Now the word of God is explicit, that his purposes of love and mercy, and all his promises shall be fulfilled by the use of the appointed means. By the preaching of the gospel, all nations shall be brought to the knowledge of the Saviour; and Africa, though long oppressed, and trampled under foot, with her benighted and degraded people, shall, by the blessing of God, on this his appointed agency, be brought to the light and liberty of the children of God. As the constitution of colored men can endure the climate of Africa better than white men, the question may be asked, Why not commit the entire work to thern? The answer to this is, that we have not got suitable and qualified men of this class to take the charge of this important work. If it be left to them, the efforts to bless this benighted people must for the present be postponed. Hence the absolute necessity of educated and qualified white men.

But although the agency of white men cannot at first be dispensed with, it is not required that the whole missionary work be done by them. On the contrary, there is so much that from the first can be done by qualified assistants, that even with an equal number of them the force of the mission would be doubled. Hence it is the part of wisdom to employ the agency of colored men, as far as their qualification will permit. At present, teachers and assistants of this class can be obtained, others of higher attainments, men of piety and zeal for this great work will in time be prepared, both in this country and among the natives, to take the burden of the missionary work in Africa on themselves ; so that the blessings of the gospel will be carried to this benighted land chiefly by the agency of her own children.

The whole of the Western coast, from Sierra Leone to the Sinoe river, had long been the mart of the slave trade. First the British, and then the American colonies arrested its progress on large sections of the coast; but it was only within the last year that the slave factories at the Gallinas and New Cess were broken up. The whole country back of these colonies

[ocr errors][merged small]

has been the seat of this murderous traffic, which to a large extent still continues. The part of the coast lying between the Sinoe river and Cape Palmas, and occupied by the Kroos, the Grand Sesters, and the Grebos, has, for the most part, escaped this dreadful scourge. No missionary has ever resided among the Kroo3, or the Grand Sesters on the coast, or any of the tribes behind them. The first station for the mission, must, from the state of the country, be on the coast. Every tribe in that region are most anxious to have missionaries to reside among them. The Kroos living on the coast claim to be first supplied before they will permit a station among their neighbors more inland, who are equally desirous of missionaries with themselves. In a short time, we hope to have another station on the highlands in the Waw country, leaving the station on the coast in the charge of the colored members of the mission. This point gained, we have good reason to believe that the health of our brethren will not suffer materially from the climate in the interior ; and that we may then look forward to the permanent continuance of the mission without more than ordinary risk to ihe health and life of the breihren sent from among ourselves.

By our last accounts from Africa, the mission family now there had past safely through the first attack of fever, which is always the most danger. ous, and which, in this instance, proved fatal to one of the brethren. The vessel that takes you out, carries also a house prepared to be set up, and large enough to accommodate two families. The vessel will touch at Cape Palmas, and it is arranged, that Mr. Canfield will proceed to the Kroo country, taking assistance with him to set up the house when the materials are landed. A boat will also be sent with you sufficiently large to run be. tween the station and either of the colonies. It will most likely be best for you to r'main at Cape Palmas until the building at Settra Kroo is ready to receive you, or even longer, if that be deemed best by yourself and the brethren there.

Whilst it is the duty of the church, and of all her judicatories, and her Board of Foreign Missions, as well as of all her missionaries, while labor. ing for the spread of the gospel, to mature the best plans for carrying for: ward the work, it is equally the duty of all to contemplate with awe and reverence, and with deep humility, the Divine sovereignty, and to aeknowledge in all things the overruling providence of God. Without his approval, every plan and council, however wise to human view, will be turned to foolishness and disappointment. It becomes us, then, to look to the word of God for direction, and to follow the example of his servants as therein recorded for our instruction. It is worthy of our imitation how frequently the apostle to the Gentiles, though commissioned by the Saviour himself, and living for his glory, and laboring more abundantly than all others, resers, in all his plans and purposes, to the will of the Lord. “I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem ; but I will return again to you, if God will.” Acts xviii. 21. “Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey, by the will of God, to come unto you." Rom. i 10. • That I may come unto you with joy, by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.” Rom.

But I will come to you shortly, it the Lord will.” 1 Cor. iv. 19. “ For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.” 1 Cor. xvi. 7. ** And this will we do, if God permit." Heb. vi. 3.

Suich also was the practice of the prophets. "And the king said unto Zadok, carry back the ark of God into the city ; if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring ine again, and show me both it and his habitation But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee, behold, here am I, let him do me as seemeth good unto bim.” 2 San . xv. 25, 26.

XV. 32.

[ocr errors]


“ Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones; and for all our substance. Forl was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way ; because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him ; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. So we fasted and besought our God for this; and he was entreated of us." Ezra viii. 21-23.

“Who is he that saith and it cometh to pass when the Lord commandeth it not?” Lam. ii. 37. “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing, and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth ; and none can stay his hand or say unto him, What doest thou ?" Dan. iv. 35. In every thing we do, therefore, in the Saviour's service, it becomes us io act under the influence of these solemn truths, and in all our proposed measures, follow the example of the prophets and apostles, saying, If the Lord wil.

In contemplating your field of labor, whilsi we would not disguise from you, nor froin ourselves, that it is of more than ordinery peril to life and health, still, as the beloved brother now there remarks, it is not required that you go there with the spirit of a martyr; but with the spirit of a mission

of the cross, whose wish and desire is to labor in the Saviour's cause, as long as the Saviour sees good to prolong your life and health. If there be danger in this field, there is also great need of laborers. Generation after generation of immortal beings are there living and dying under the cruel dominion of Satan. There is a people for whom every thing remains to be done,-a people who have had a double portion of the wormwood and the gall.

Let us pause a moment to consider and weep over the complications of evil and opppession which trample this people in the dust. First, the blasting influence of the slave trade, extending over a great part of the Western coast, breaking up every bond of society, arraying the different communities against each other, and making it the interest of every man to quarrel with his neighbor, that he may betray and sell him to the manstealer and the pirate. Next, the despotism and oppression of their rulers, by which almost the whole community are reduced to slavery, and subjected to the caprice, avarice and cruelty of those who ought to protect and cherish them. Then comes their miserable and unprincipled priesthood, their fetish men, their witchfinders, their devil men, their rain-makers, with all their train of debasing and cruel forms of worship, and low un. meaning idolatry. We turn to the dark shades of the picture, and there we find poor degraded woman. No plague spot so deep as this. Here is half the community, the mothers of the rising generation, brutalized, and doomed to the most abject depression where all are depressed and wretched. But the darkest shade still remains to be considered, and that is the closing scene. To them no ray of light breaks across the thick darkness that rests upon the grave. Death is to them a most dreaded and most dreadful enemy, and from his approach they shrink with terror and despair to the last. Nor is this to be wondered at, for he comes to them in unknown terrors. The love of a dying Saviour has never reached their ears; the message of mercy, of pardon for sin, of peace with God, has never been sent to them. They have lived in the region and shadow of death, and they die surrounded with terror and remorse, with every prospect shrouded in the darkness of the tomb. O, how much this people need the knowledge of that remedy which has the promise of this life and that which is to come. How emphatically to them would the message of the gospel be good-tidings of great joy.


Should it be the will of God that your constitution can bear the climate to which you go, there never was a brighter prospect of usefulness than is now before you. Dark and waste and dreary as are the moral desolations of the people to whom you are sent, there is not, perhaps, any where a more interesting field of missionary labor ;. and as far as the inhabitants are concerned, one that is more encouraging. They are found to be of a teachable disposition, and many of them affectionate and confiding; and when brought to the knowledge of the truth, consistent and orderly professors of the name of Christ. Among the tribes on the coast, and those immediately inland, there is a great field of labor and much work to be done; but our Master's vineyard lies also beyond all these, stretching far into the interior, and indeed embracing every tribe and people, whether wandering in the deserts, dwelling in cities, or solitary places, in the bosom of the forests, or on the banks of the lakes and rivers. All these are included in the command of the Saviour to the church, and all these are included in his purposes of love and mercy. The way is fully open to commence the missionary work among them; and the progress of the truth from tribe to tribe, will still further and further



of the Lord, till the good news shall reach the most remote and obscure corner of the land.

Go forward, then, dear friends, without despondency, Present duty is our concern, and results belong to God. Live near the blessed Saviour. “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye your. selves like unto men that wait for their Lord.” In the prayers of God's people we trust you will not be forgotten; and whilst in the name of the church we bid you God speed, -whilst we say farewell, we would with adoring reverence commend you to the care and keeping of the living God; and may his grace, mercy, and peace be with you! Amen.

AT LOWER CALDWELL.-On Saturday the 26th of June the M. E. Church lately erected in that place, was dedicated to God, and his worship, by the Rev. B. R. Wilsos , a pertinent discourse from Haggai, the second chapter, and the latter part of the seventh verse: “ And I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.” Here too, a quarterly meeting was commenced, at the time of dedicating the Church. We visited Caldwell on Sunday the 27th, and joined with the congregation in divine service in the new Sanctuary, We were much pleased with the neat appearance of the assembly, and found it pleasant and profitable, to be in the house of the Lord on that occasion.

This building has been put up at the expense of the M. E. Missionary Society. It is a plain, comfortable and permanent wooden structure ; about thirty by twenty-five feet, neatly seated, and having a good pulpit and altar.-Africa's Luminary.


From AFRICA.— The following curious and interesting announcement is fiom the Southern Literary Messenger for October. Authentic accounts from Timbuctoo will put the literary world on the alert. Dr. "CHARLES MATHEWs, who left the United States about fifteen years since, with a view to make discoveries in the interior of Africa, writes to a friend in Vermont from Abyssinia, that he shall return in the summer of 1842, and that he has been gennerally successful in his researches. He had travelled from Morocco across the Great Desert, to Timbuctoo, and from that capital nearly to the Cape of Good Hope, back to Timbuctoo, and to Abyssinia, besides making several less important journeys, which had added much to his knowledge of the geography of the country and the social condition of its people."

« PreviousContinue »