« PoprzedniaDalej »
walk, he was thrown across an ass, and thus conveyed to prison, whence he was only to come out to the scaffold. But he was not forgotten, even in this the most perilous crisis of his adventurous life. The fall of Robespierre restored him, and thousands more, to liberty. Full of years, and with his death-bed surrounded by loving friends, “ he fell asleep” on the 5th September, 1794, the sole survivor of the “pastors of the desert."
The interesting field of CHRISTIAN MISSIONS has exemplified in a remarkable manner the protecting care of God as extended to his servants, who have gone forth—often with their lives in their hands—to preach his gospel. In this department of our subject, indeed, the illustrations could be almost indefinitely multiplied, but the following instances will sufficiently prove to the reader how safe and secure are those who commit themselves to the providence of God, while humbly endeavouring to perform his will.
Few histories contain the narratives of more signal and numerous Divine interpositions than that of the Moravian missionaries in Greenland. The simple faith and self-devotedness with which they addressed themselves to their work, in calm reliance upon Him who had promised to “supply all their need," seems to have received a special blessing. Some of them plunged into the depths of that barren icebound region, and took up their abode among the eternal snows which encircle the pole. Their life depended upon the arrival of a vessel annually freighted from Denmark with provisions, clothing, and other necessaries; and though, by the detention of this ship, they were often reduced to great suffering, yet they were never left utterly destitute. The vessel always arrived before their supplies were quite exhausted, nor was it ever wrecked. The latter circumstance is a most remarkable one, when we remember the dangerous character of the seas through which the ship had to sail, and the numerous wrecks which annually occur in that inhospitable and terrible coast.
Nor were the providential interpositions on their behalf confined to the safe and timely arrival of their annual consignment of provisions. Oftentimes, when suffering from famine, some altogether unexpected supply came. Once they were reduced so low that some old tallow candles were their only food, and even these were on the point of being exhausted, when a Greenlander, an entire stranger to them, and with whom they had had no previous intercourse, travelled forty leagues to sell them some seals, oatmeal, and train oil-choice delicacies compared with the nauseous fare which had been their previous diet. At another time, they had just returned empty-handed from a distant and wearisome journey in search of food, when a native brought them the intelligence that a Dutch ship was lying at some distance to the south, the captain of which had letters for them. At once they despatched messengers to it, who found on board a cask of provisions from a friend at Amsterdam, with a letter promising to repeat the gift if it were needed. One night they were returning home exhausted with hunger and toil, when a storm suddenly burst upon them, and drove their frail boat upon a desolate island- La circumstance which rendered it impossible for them to proceed till the wind should abate, or change its direction.
Enfeebled as they were by long fasting, they would soon have been unable to manage their little skiff in those tempestuous seas, and must probably have perished on the island, or in the endeavour to leave it, when an eagle fell in their way, which they succeeded in killing, and thus sup
plied their craving hunger and recruited their failing strength. But lack of food was not the only peril to which they were exposed. They were surrounded by other dangers, as the following oft-told but ever-interesting narrative will show.
At the period when the incident about to be narrated happened, they occupied three mission stations on the coast of Labrador, under the superintendence of Samuel Liebrisch, who resided at Nain, the most southern of them. It was Liebrisch's duty to visit at intervals the other two stations, the most distant of which, Okkah, lay about one hundred and fifty miles to the north. In making his journeys to these places, he travelled, like the Esquimaux, in sledges drawn by dogs over the frozen sea. In calm frosty weather, this is a pleasant and rapid mode of transit. The dogs bound merrily along over the glassy surface at the rate of seven or eight miles an hour, and the motion of the sledge is smooth and agreeable. But there are two dangers to be apprehended; the one, a thaw, rendering the ice rotten and causing it to give way; the other, the rising of a storm, which, driving the waves with great force under the ice, cracks it into pieces, and sometimes breaks it up altogether.
On the morning of March 11th, 1782, a missionary party set out from Nain for Okkak, fearing neither of these evils; the morning was clear, calm, and frosty, the stars shining with great brilliancy, and the ice in the best possible order. They, therefore, hoped to reach Okkak in three or four days at furthest; but shortly after starting they met with some Esquimaux, who warned then that the ice was beginning to break up, and advised them to return. As there seemed nothing to warrant the apprehensions expressed, they supposed that the Esquimaux were giving a false alarm, from a desire to have the society of their friends who were driving the sledges of the missionaries. They, therefore, determined to proceed. At mid-day there was still no appearance of change in the weather-all seemed bright and calm as before; but a disagreeable sensation, as though there was a strong ground-swell, causing the ice to heave and roll beneath them, began to be felt. They now stopped, and one of the party getting out put his ear to the ice, and heard a harsh, hollow, grating sound, which was at once recognised as the warning of