Obrazy na stronie

ved his orders as presented upright

which recommended him to the Archbishop for this office, had no such misgivings. They had witnessed his humble and upright course for nearly thirty years. When they presented him to the Bishop of London for holy orders as their first African candidate, they had received his lordship’s cordial approval of his fitness for the ministry. On a later occasion he had been honoured by an interview with the Prince Consort, at which Her Majesty was present, and he had behaved with the utmost propriety. We were ourselves present at an interview with the late Lord Palmerston in 1851, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, who entered into an animated discussion with Mr. Crowther on the social and commercial prospects of West Africa, when the remarkable knowledge of details of that eminent statesman was signally displayed. He had studied the soundings of the West coast of Africa, so as to be able from memory to pronounce to what ports the slavers could approach so near as to necessitate an inshore blockade. The bar at Lagos Lord Palmerston asserted to be an effectual barrier against the entrance of ships of any burden. Mr. Crowther asserted that he had himself been shipped in a slaver of considerable burden from a wharf within the bar. Lord Palmerston started in his seat, and exclaimed, “Were you ever a slave ? Where did you obtain your education, and the accurate information you have of the resources of your country ?" For a full hour that great statesman maintained an animated conference with his Negro guest, and afterwards furnished him with an official letter to the chiefs of Abeokuta, certifying the deep interest which Her Majesty the Queen of England felt in the rising civilization of that country. Thus Mr. Crowther had been in some sense marked out for such a responsible trust as was now committed to him.

It was thought well, however, that before Mr. Crowther was consecrated, he should receive the literary distinction of an honorary degree from one of our Universities; and the Archbishop of Canterbury himself wrote to the Vice-Chancellor of his own University, Oxford, to confer that honour. The literary labours of Mr. Crowther in a grammar and dictionary of his own language, the Yoruban, and the translation into it of the greater part of the Bible, together with other proofs of his linguistic talents, were submitted to the Vice-chancellor, who proposed to the Convocation of Oxford to confer on Mr. Crowther the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. This honour was not, however, conferred through deference to the wishes of the Metropolitan. The degree was objected to in Convocation by a speaker of some standing in the University. He however stood alone, or nearly alone, in opposing the vote for the degree. We have been favoured with a copy of the speech of

the Professor of Divinity, Dr. Jacobson, now Bishop of Chester, when the degree was conferred by Dr. Jacobson's deputy, in his own much regretted absence. The document is of general interest as connecting the evangelistic labours of a Negro bishop with our most ancient seat of learning :

“ Insignissime Vice-Cancellarie, Vosque Egregii Procuratores, Praesento Vobis hunc Virum Reverendum, Samuel Crowther, in regionibus Africae Occidentalis, extra terminos Coloniae Britannicae jacentibus, Episcopum designatum.

“Quem olim parvulum a patria et parentibus, a fratribus et sororibus, crudelissime abreptum, atque servituti, postremo omnium malorum, traditum, naves nostrae Regiae in libertatem vindicaverunt.

“Mox, in adolescente tanta intelligendi vis, ingenium ad linguas multiplices variasque perdiscendas tam habile et aptum sese ostendit, ut, in Navigatione illa Fluvii Nigri cognoscendi causa suscepta, Interpretis munere fungeretur.

“ Deinde, postquam apud Islington liberaliter fuerat institutus, et a Blomfieldio, Episcopo Londinensi, in Ordines Sacros admissus, sub auspiciis alterius Societatum illarum quae operam dant ut Ecclesia nostra, favente Summo Numine, palmites suos trans maria extendere possit, et Doctrina Christiana inter gentes barbaros propagetur, toto animo et studio omni in labores missionarios, apud Abeokutam, et per totam Yorubam, incubuit.

“ Testamenti Novi et Libri Precum Publicarum nostri bonam partem in sermones plures vernaculos reddidit.

“Nunc demum, ut inter populares suos Episcopatus opus bonum suscipiat, jussu Reginae nostrae Serenissimae, in Africam reversurus est.

“Quem igitur, Diocesi novae constituendae, fovendae, gubernandae addictum et consecratum, Ecclesiae indigenae Episcopum indigenum, bonis omnibus votis prosequemur, Hunc praesento Vobis, ut ad Gradum Doctoris in Sacra Theologia, Honoris causa, admittatur.” *

(Translation.) Most excellent Vice-Chancellor and Honourable Proctors,--I present to you this reverend man, Samuel Crowther, Bishop-Designate for the territories of Western Africa situate beyond the limits of our British Colony.

He was, while yet a child, most cruelly snatched from his country and parents, his brothers and sisters, and consigned to slavery, the worst of evils, till rescued by the ships of Her Majesty's fleet.

In his youth he displayed so much intelligence and aptitude for learning many languages, that he discharged the office of Interpreter in the Niger Expedition,

Subsequently, after having received

a liberal education at Islington, and having been admitted by Dr. Blomfield, Bishop of London, to Holy Orders, under the auspices of one of the two Societies which, in dependance upon the Divine favour, employ themselves in causing our Church" to send forth her branches beyond the seas," and in propagating the knowledge of Christ among barbarous races, he devoted himself, with his whole heart and soul, to missionary labours in Abeokuta and throughout Yoruba.

He has translated the New Testament and large portions of the PrayerBook into several vernacular dialects.

He is now on the point of returning, by command of the Queen's Most ExWe will only add that Bishop Crowther's career, from the day of his consecration to the present time, fully vindicates the wisdom and propriety of his elevation to the episcopate. From being a modest missionary, sheltering himself under the wing of the Church Missionary Society, and yielding the precedence in everything to the European Missionaries, he at once rose to the individual responsibility which his office now imposed upon him; which he thus modestly expressed in taking leave of the Committee upon his return to Africa :

"The more I think of the present position to which I have been called, the greater seems its weight and responsibility. In days past, when I went forth as a West-African Missionary, it was my duty and my delight to give account to my brethren: my present position is different. I need, therefore, much spiritual support, and without strong confidence in the sympathy and prayers of the Church, I feel it would be impossible to go on. In taking this office upon me, I have not followed my own will, but what I believe is the will of Almighty God. I can only promise to use the best of my judgment, prudence, and zeal for the promotion of His glory, relying on His help and strength. I know that my new position sets me up as a kind of landmark, which both the Church and the heathen world must needs behold. I am aware that any false step taken by me will be injurious to all the Native Churches; yet, if God keeps me steadfast, the months of the adversaries will be silenced, and the Society be encouraged to go forward, not in their own strength, but in the strength of the Lord. All I ask is prayer for me. May I go back to the dark places of idolatry and superstition supported by the fervent and continual supplications of the Church, and leaning on the promise of the Saviour, 'Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.' May an abundant blessing ever rest on the work of the Society.”

As soon as he touched the coast of West Africa his mind seemed to expand and grasp the full import of his commission to stir up Africa's sons to be themselves the evangelizers of Africa. The following is the substance of an address he made to the native pastors of Sierra Leone :

“My dear Brethren,-Accept my thanks for your kind feelings and expressions of respect towards me.

“The present state of West Africa Mission presents to the Church of Christ a very encouraging aspect, when we look back to its beginning, and compare it with the stage at which, through God's blessing, it has now arrived.

"When we look back to the commencement, we find the Mission

cellent Majesty, to undertake the good work of a Bishop among his own people.

Him, therefore, thus devoted and consecrated to the work of establishing, cherishing, and ruling a new Diocese,

a native Bishop for a native Church, we would encourage with all hearty goodwill.

Him I present to you to be admitted to the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity.

took its beginning among a heterogeneous mass of people, brought together in the providence of God from many tribes of this part of Africa, out of whom, through the zealous, faithful, and persevering labour of the early Missionaries, arose devout congregations of faithful and sincere Christians. After a time the Mission produced a Native Ministry; then a self-supporting Native Pastorate; and latterly, out of the Native Ministry, a humble step onward was taken in faith, to introduce a Native Episcopate in Missions beyond Her Majesty's dominions. Here we may pause and raise our Ebenezer to God's praise. Hitherto the Lord has helped us.

“This onward progress seems to be an indication from God beckoning to us to come forward, put our shoulders to the wheel, and ease our European brethren of the great work which they have so nobly sustained alone from their predecessors for fifty years, many of whom had sealed the testimony of their zeal with their lives ; their graves at the burial grounds are existing monuments of their faithful obedience to their Master's command—Go and teach all nations.'

“Whether called to their rest, or whether beaten back from the fields of their labour through ill health, and forced to retire, or whether still labouring among us, it is our bounden duty, in gratitude, to remember and esteem them highly in love for their works' sake, of which we are the fruits.

“We must exhibit the Missionary spirit ourselves, and encourage it among our congregations, if we are imitators of Missionary enterprises. If, as Timothy knew Paul, we also have known their manner of life, purpose, doctrine, and their zeal, we should endeavour to preach the Gospel in the regions beyond the Colony.

"To extend our line of usefulness, we must seriously impress on our Christian countrymen the necessity of exhibiting the spirit of liberality, after the example of the mother Church, whose spirit they should imbibe, not only to support their own pastors and school teachers, keeping in good repair their churches and other buildings made over into their hands, but also to contribute, according to the means God has blessed them with, to send the Gospel into countries beyond them which are yet destitute of the blessings of its light.

“But above all, we must be followers of Christ, the great Shepherd of His flock, and of the example of His Apostles in the habit of prayer for help from above. This is the weapon which prevails most in the work of the Ministry. When we feel our weakness and insufficiency for the work to which God has called us, we must constantly go to the throne of grace to ask divine aid. We are better fitted for the work when we feel our incompetency to change a sinner's heart. This will drive us to apply to the Fountain Head for a quickening Spirit from above, which He has promised to all who ask Him; then we shall be encouraged to go on in this our might:-has He not sent us?

“SAMUEL A. CROWTHER, “ Free town, August 12th, 1864.”


We close this Article with an annual letter just received by

the Archbishop of Canterbury from Bishop Crowther, and which his Grace kindly permits us to insert as the latest intelligence of the Bishop's Episcopal labours :“My Lord Archbishop,

“Lagos, June 1, 1869. “It has been my practice to write an annual letter to our much lamented late Archbishop Longley, giving a condensed account of my missionary operations in the Niger Territory.

“In the first place I must sympathize with your Grace and the Church on the occasion of the removal, by death, of your late predecessor, in the midst of very arduous struggles to oppose the revival of Ritualism in Protestant England, from which the Church was gradually freed since the last 300 years, on account of its unprofitableness, to hold the simplicity of the faith of the Gospel as is taught in the New Testament. The late Archbishop had zealously accomplished the work assigned him as a faithful champion of Christ's Church militant here on earth ; now he is called to his rest to receive his glorious reward from our compassionate Redeemer. May the Spirit of Christ rest on your Lordsbip to follow up the combat, to maintain the purity of the Church from onedifying innovations. The great head of the Church has given His assurance that the gates of hell shall not prevail against her. Though the struggles are mighty, yet our Lord is mightier. In His infinite wisdom He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

“My last visit to the Niger was in every respect one of hope mingled with much anxiety; hopeful from the firmness of the Christians in time of persecution, though they had to pay heavy fines laid upon them by their malicious persecutors. Much anxiety arises lest their enemies be more enraged by their determination to abide by the truth of the Gospel they have been taught, and become more severe in the punishment they had invented. Such an unsettled state of a Church cannot but create, in one concerned, much anxiety as to the extent to which it may go. I am just being initiated into the feelings of St. Paul, when he said, “Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the Churches.' It has pleased God to appoint persecution as a test of His true and faithful people, we must therefore look to Him who has assured as they shall come out like silver purified seven times in the furnace.

“A spacious mud church had been commenced at Onitsha station at the Niger, which was nearly completed when the persecution broke out in September last; but as the king has put a stop to the persecution, and repealed the law against church-going, and promised protection to the converts, I hope by this time it is available for service.

“Lokoja, our next station at the confluence of the Kwarra and Tshadda branches of the Niger, has been impeded in progress from disturbance of war between the rival brothers for the kingship of that district, as well as from a party of pirates who attempted to plunder the merchants' trading establishment last year. Notwithstanding all these agitations, our Mission agents have continued the routine of their weekly services and day schools, though not with increased numbers.

« PoprzedniaDalej »