SOME particulars of the Illness and Death of the late Rev. William Garnon were given in our last Volume, pp. 481-484. We are now enabled to lay before our Readers the leading circumstances in the Life of this lamented young Clergyman; who, though not a Missionary in name, was eminently a Missionary in spirit, and in labours for and among the Heathen. The varied and chequered days of his youth will be found to have been a preparation for his subsequent short but exemplary career of service. The Christian Reader will not fail to pray that many Labourers may be sent forth into the field, endued with that simplicity and wisdom, that gentleness and fortitude, that activity and faith, which were united, by the Grace of God, in the character of Mr. Garnon.
The Rev. W. Garnon was born at Lincoln, July 27, 1791. He was early deprived of his parents; his mother dying in childbirth of him; and his father, who was an attorney at Lincoln, dying when he was only eight years old.
In 1798, he went to school to Oxford, first to a preparatory, and afterwards to a higher seminary, where he continued till 1803.
While here, he was preserved from premature death, by that merciful Providence which watches over the unguarded steps of childhood. Having one day improperly played truant with two of his schoolfellows, they got into a barge near a mill on the river. The current was so strong as to draw it near to a rock, when he, in trying to push it back, fell in. His companions could not rescue him, nor did they like to leave him; till, after many minutes, it appearing that he must be drowned, they hastened to fetch some men belonging to the mill, who immediately came, and put a pole into the water, which, although he grasped it at first, he soon lost, and sunk again; when a man jumped in, and pulled him out, almost exhausted. At another time he was scalded so severely, as to lead to serious apprehensions for his life.
On the 7th of January, 1804, he finally left school, and removed to his uncle's, Mr. James Garnon; and was placed under the care of his aunt, with whom he continued for some time.
Mr. James Garnon was a Captain in the Thirtieth Regiment of Foot, then stationed at Buckingham on the recruiting service; and, as his time was not then much occupied, he devoted it to the instruction of his nephew. A strong mutual attachment was soon formed. This happiness did not, however, last long; as his uncle was taken suddenly ill in July following, and died in a week. He had seen a great deal of service, having been in the whole of the war with Hyder Ally and Tippoo Saib, under Lord Cornwallis, and in Egypt under General Abercrombie; and, notwithstanding these hard services, enjoyed perfect health till within a few days of his death. It is worthy of remark, that although he had been, in those countries, exposed to great danger from [237/238] the sun and climates, yet he was taken off at last, in England, by a "coup de soleil"--a striking illustration of those words, With HIM are the issues of life and death.
The death of his uncle was a renewed trial to Mr. Garnon; but it was the means of enabling him to decide on his future destination. It had, for some time, been a subject of inquiry with his friend, in what business or profession he should be brought up; and the sudden death of his uncle, with the martial spirit which he had imbibed by his frequent intercourse with the Military, at once decided him. The late Marquis of Buckingham, having well known his uncle, immediately came forward, promising him his patronage; and presented him with a Commission to the Buckinghamshire Militia, till he should be old enough to go into the Line. He accepted this Commission, and joined his regiment at Maidstone, on the 1st of January, 1805.
From the Marquis of Buckingham he received peculiar attention, of which he ever retained a grateful remembrance. When Mr. Garnon was taking leave of this benevolent Nobleman, after spending two months with him at his seat at Stowe, and was acknowledging his kindness, the Marquis affectionately replied, "Take care, my dear Boy:--behave well, and God will be your father!"
Thus, at this early age, between fourteen and fifteen, he entered the Army--inexperienced, and exposed to all the temptations connected with the Military Profession; but his amiable and interesting disposition, added to his youthful appearance, gained for him the protection and esteem of his superior officers.
From Maidstone, the regiment proceeded, in May, to Chelmsford. He continued moving with it to different places, staying some time at each, till September 1807, when he received a Commission in the Fourteenth Regiment of Foot; to which he became entitled, according to the regulations, by volunteering with fifty men. He immediately joined his new regiment at Horsham.
In December following, they embarked for Ireland, where they remained till July 1808, when they received orders to sail for Spain, in the Expedition with Sir David Baird, and joined Sir John Moore at Benavento. He was engaged in that harassing campaign; and returned, in February 1809, to England, landed in the Downs, and marched to Buckingham In July, he left England again with the Expedition to Walcheren, under Lord Chatham; returned in October; and re-embarked in November for the same place, to bring back the shattered remains of the Army. He arrived in England, February 1810; and sailed for Gibraltar, for garrison duty, the regiment being much crippled. In July, he left Gibraltar for Malta; where he was seized with the cheren fever, which prevailed among the troops. This obliged him to return to England, in November; being reduced to a state of great weakness, and at THAT time feeling a strong wish to die in his native land.
On his arrival in England, he proceeded to Brighton, where his aunt then resided, with a view to recruit his health; but, continuing for some months in a very delicate state, he was induced to apply for an additional six months' absence from his regiment, which was granted.
This visit laid the foundation of many interesting and important circumstances in his future life. He was introduced to a circle of acquaintance totally different from those with whom he had been accustomed to associate. He could not then justly appreciate their piety; but, when brought to feel the real influence of Religion on his own heart, he learned to esteem them very highly in love, for their works' sake.
While Mr. Garnon was suffering from severe illness at Malta, he was often under painful apprehensions of dying. He had been engaged in open contest with the enemies of his country, but the attendant circumstances of battle stifled the consideration of futurity. Now, laid on a sick bed, unable longer to relish those vanities and gay pleasures which in health he had pursued, he could not contemplate the awful change but with fear and dismay. Those words of Dr. Young were much in his thoughts--"Time how short! Eternity how long!"
These impressions, which arose chiefly from the fear of future punishment, soon wore off, as he began to recover. In speaking of this period [238/239] once to a friend, he said, "When I returned, though I was so ill as scarcely to be able to move about, I had no more idea of Religion than a brute."
His residence at Brighton became an inestimable blessing to him. The preaching of the Cross was, at first, foolishness to him; but it became the power of God to his salvation. He eagerly attempted to disprove what he heard from the pulpit; while he thought, from the Preacher's earnestness, that the subject demanded attention. But the very effort to disprove the truth of what he heard, as it led him to search the Scriptures, had the happiest effect on his mind. Much dissatisfied and yet impressed, one day, with what the Preacher had said, he told his aunt that he was persuaded that he did not speak the truth; and that he would go to hear him ONCE more, and examine what he might advance, by the Bible: if it agreed with the Bible, he would believe him; if not, he would go no more. He went, therefore--heard him--and was satisfied. The eyes of his understanding being enlightened, he was led to discover the depravity of his nature, the evil of sin, his abuse of the many mercies conferred upon him, and the negligence of his past life. He was now humbled under a sense of the aggravated nature of his offences; and the same Divine Teacher, who had effectually convinced him of his sinfulness, led him also to the Saviour, in whose righteousness alone he could stand accepted before a Holy God. In a renunciation of self, and in firm dependence on Christ, he found that peace to which before he had been an utter stranger.
The sincerity of this change was evidenced by consistency of life, and a superiority to those pursuits and amusements which once afforded him high gratification; combined with a surrender of the heart to God, and an ardent wish to be instrumental in communicating to others the unspeakable blessings of which he had been made partaker.
This desire to glorify his Heavenly Father in declaring the freeness and fulness of that salvation which is by Jesus Christ, disposed him to turn his attention to the work of the Ministry. A feeling of compassion arose in his heart for his late comrades and companions in folly. He longed to tell them what a Saviour he had found. On this subject, he consulted with his friends, earnestly prayed for direction, and waited to discover the leadings of Divine Providence by concurrent circumstances.
About this time he was introduced to Mr. Wilberforce, who, with his accustomed benevolence and kindness, promised, should he resign his commission with such a view, that he would recommend him to a Clergyman who would assist him in preparing for the Sacred Office.
It was now about the Autumn of 1811; when his leave of absence being almost expired, it became necessary for him to come to a decision with regard to his future proceedings; whether he would return to the Army, or prepare for the Ministerial Office. He wrote, accordingly, to General Calvert, Colonel of his Regiment, and Adjutant-General of His Majesty's Forces, intimating his wish to resign his Commission; and received for answer, in November, that his resignation was accepted.
He now wrote to Mr. Wilberforce, stating his resignation, and his wish to accept his kind offer. In the beginning of 1812, he entered, in consequence, on his studies, under a Clergyman, whose instruction he enjoyed till he received Holy Orders. He gained the affections, not only of his fellow-students, but of all who had intercourse with him, by his affable disposition and fervent and simple piety; and was very assiduous in visiting and instructing the sick and poor.
In September, 1814, he went to Chester; and was ordained, on the 20th, to the Curacy of Edenfield, in Lancashire.
In a Letter to a friend, about this period, Mr. Garnon writes--"I long to have my heart overflowing with the love of Christ to me, the most unworthy, not counting my life dear unto myself, that I may labour abundantly in His Vineyard:" and, in another, "What an honour conferred on me! that, after having served our good King George, I should be permitted to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!"
He began his Ministry at Edenfield, October 2d. Not being able to [239/240] procure a suitable situation nearer, he resided at Heywood, about five or six miles off. It was his custom to go to Edenfield on the Saturday Afternoon, and return on the Monday Evening, after having spent the day in visiting his parishioners; occasional duties sometimes requiring his attendance in other parts of the week. He soon had a good Congregation; and his exertions for the spiritual welfare of the people committed to his charge were very great. He laboured among them in an affectionate spirit, with much diligence and fidelity, feeling his heart deeply engaged in his work; and it pleased God not to leave him without testimonies of His blessing.
In September 1815, he went again to Chester, to take Priest's Orders; and, in the following November, received an appointment to the Chaplaincy of Sierra Leone; a situation which was rendered the more desirable to him from its connexion with the Military, in whom he felt a peculiar interest, having spent so much of his early life among them; always calling himself the "Soldier's Friend."
After having accepted this situation; he says, in a Letter to a friend, "I am about to launch forth to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the benighted Africans. Think of a young man; 'unskilful, weak, and apt to slide;' having a heart prone to evil, and that continually--a nature ever departing from God; one who finds it difficult to save his own soul, yet attempting to be the means of saving others: these are the mountains, the difficulties, which too often impede my own course, and would, if possible, enfeeble my poor exertions; but, blessed be God for His unspeakable gift! Is there no balm in Gilead? no physician there? Yes! Jesus Christ, The Way, the Truth, and the Life. To whom then should I go? It is true, without Him I can do nothing; but, in His strength I can do all things. Surely, then, my soul fainteth for Thy salvation, but I hope in Thy word."
Another Letter will shew how sensible he was of his own insufficiency for such an arduous station; while he was fervently desirous of obtaining help from Him that is mighty.
"I greatly need encouragement in the important situation I am about to occupy. Fears, from without and from within, daily arise; and I feel myself wholly insufficient for the work, unless the power of Christ rest upon me. Pray for me, that, though weak, I may be strong in Him; and, having nothing, I may possess all things: The ravaging effects of the climate naturally deter one. O how difficult is it to forsake all for Christ, to count all things but loss for the excellency of His knowledge! May His grace powerfully operate on our hearts, that none of THESE things may move us, nor that we may count our lives dear unto ourselves, so that we may finish our course with joy, and testify the Gospel of the grace of God to benighted Africa!"
The prospect of his removal to such a distance, and the great probability that they should see his face no more in the flesh, was, as may be supposed, matter of deep sorrow to those who had been benefited by his ministry; while a feeling of regret was expressed by all: for his peculiarly amiable disposition endeared him to all who knew him. In testimony of their esteem, they proposed to contribute 5l. per annum for the education of a child to be named after him in Africa; and a few little tokens of regard were presented to him by the POOR of his flock. He was not unmindful of that flock, when he could no longer personally labour among them; and the hearts of some have been refreshed by his communications from the scene of his subsequent labours. He preached his farewell sermon to them on the last Sunday before Christmas Day 1815, from Acts xx. 32.
In the beginning of March, 1816, he went to Birmingham, where he occasionally assisted the Rev. Edward Burn at St. Mary's; and sometimes officiated at Harborne, a village about three miles from Birmingham. Early in April he proceeded to Harewood, in Yorkshire, where he supplied, for several weeks, for the Rev. R. Hale, Vicar of that place. In conversation with this gentleman relative to his going abroad, he said, "I am going to the most unhealthy climate in the world, but I know that I am immortal till my work be done. What may be the will of God concerning me, I know not; but I shall know hereafter."
Mr. Garnon did not undertake the Chaplaincy of-Sierra Leone without [240/241] endeavouring duly to weigh the dangers and privations connected with that situation; but these he was willing to encounter, depending on the strength of Divine Grace. His language was, I can do all things, through Christ which strengtheneth me.
In writing to a friend about this time, he says, "The mention of JESUS, of his grace and fulness, of his supports and promises, of his faithfulness and his salvation; even of HIM who is Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption; tends to cheer my heart, and increase my faith, which is, alas! too often liable to become weak, when I view the many and great difficulties which my important undertaking naturally brings before me. Like Peter, I am too apt to look DOWN upon my difficulties, rather than look up to my Saviour. May the Holy Spirit enable me to look upon HIM, and meditate on His fulness, who filleth all in all!"
In the beginning of June, Mr. Garnon left Harewood, and took charge of the parish of Harborne for several weeks. This was a situation much endeared to him, on many accounts. He formed an affectionate attachment to the person and family of a revered friend, George Simcox, Esq with whom he for some time resided. It was from under his hospitable roof that he was married, at Harborne Church, by the Rev. Edward Burn, on Thursday the 18th of July, to Miss Mary Dennis Rock, of Birmingham. The solemnity and interest of this union were enhanced, by the consideration of the important duties which they had in prospect; and by the earnestness and affection with which their Christian Friends united, in commending them to the care and blessing of Him, in whose cause they were about to serve in a foreign land.
An extract of a Letter, written at this time, will shew the high sense which he retained, under the trial of parting from his friends, of the engagements which he had entered into at his Ordination. It was addressed to one of his associates on that solemn occasion--the Rev. William Carus Wilson. "Our feelings will be called into exercise; but, if governed by love to Christ; this will give them a just direction; so that we shall, in all things, make our wills subservient to His will. I cannot but feel separation from my dear friends--and the leaving of my native country, perhaps never more to return. But shall I repine? Whose am I?--You, my dear friend, can testify, with others, that I gave myself up to be a Labourer in the vineyard of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ; and that I promised to feed his flock willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. Surely I am thine, O Lord! I am not my own; I am bought with a price."
In this spirit and temper he set forward on his work in Africa, not knowing the things that should befall him there, but prepared to meet them as a Christian.
Mr. and Mrs. Garnon, after taking leave of their friends and their country, embarked on board the Diana, Captain Lawson, on September 29th, for Sierra Leone. During the voyage, relying on his God in humble and filial confidence, he was happy amidst storms and tempests; trusting in Him, who holds the winds in his fist, and the waters in the hollow of his hand. The prevailing desire of his heart to do good to others manifested itself while on board, in the instruction, as he had opportunity, of those who sailed with him.
Africa now became generally associated with the objects before him. In a Letter to the Rev. W. C. Wilson, after passing the Canary Isles, one Sunday Morning, he writes--"The sun was rising just above the lofty Peak of Teneriffe, and with his rays dispersing the clouds and mists which generally hang around its brow. It was a glorious sight; and reminded me of Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, who is for the healing of the nations; and of that happy time, when He shall rise upon benighted Africa with healing in his wings, to scatter the mists of ignorance and superstition which render it a land of even Egyptian darkness."
In three weeks, the Diana anchored off Senegal. "Some of the natives," Mr. Garnon wrote to a friend, "came on board. They have little clothing. One had some Greegrees about his neck. I asked him for what reason: he said, to preserve his life, and that no knife might cut him. In order to convince him to the contrary, I affected to cut him; [241/242] he cried out, and began to cross his forehead. He then said that it was to preserve him from accidents; that he gave two dollars for one, and it was very good. I directed him to Jesus Christ for preservation and salvation: to Him he must pray, and put no trust in his Greegrees."
On landing at Senegal, it proved to be a grand festival with the Mahomedans. Melancholy evidences abounded, on all sides, of a country buried in the shadow of death. His mind was deeply impressed with a sense of the invaluable privilege of being born in a Christian Land, where the holy and peaceful religion of Jesus is proclaimed.
Mr. Garnon was strongly urged by Major Peddie, at the head of the Expedition into the Interior to discover the Source of the Niger, and who was then at Senegal, to preach a Farewell Sermon to the party engaged. He would have gladly complied; but much lamented that he was prevented, by orders to go on board early on the Sunday Morning. Major Peddie, and two other Senior Officers, died, as is well known, with about fifty men, when they had proceeded scarcely more than 200 miles. In writing afterwards to a friend, and mentioning his having seen the setting forward and the return of one of the largest expeditions into Africa, he says, "Some who have returned are not very willing, I believe, to go again; but they say the HONOUR of the thing obliges them. Farewell such HONOURS!--I once sighed for them, but found them not. I was told that glory was to be found in ARMS: I sighed for that also; and enjoyed it, as I thought, for some years. I endured all difficulties then, as a good soldier; yet I never found this glory: till at last it was told me that TRUE glory was to be found above--and that it consisted in Grace, imparted here, as an earnest of Glory hereafter."
On Sunday, October 3, the Diana sailed for Goree, where she stayed a few days. Mr. and Mrs. Garnon here visited Mr. and Mrs. Hughes, stationed at this island by the Church Missionary Society; and examined into the state of the Schools. On the following Saturday they sailed for Sierra Leone. The ship stopped, for a day or two, at the British Settlement in the Gambia, then quite in its infant state; and anchored in St. George's Bay, off Free-town, on the 21st of November.
The view of the Peninsula of Sierra Leone, when sailing up the River, is striking and beautiful; and the face of the country quite different from any which they had before seen on that coast. The mountains, which extend a considerable distance from West to East, form a noble chain; and, on a near approach, present a very picturesque appearance, from the thick and lively verdure with which they are constantly crowned. Here and there is a spot cleared, with a house and a farm. These pleasingly vary the scene. The Church at Leicester Mountain, from its conspicuous situation, soon arrests the eye of the stranger; and affords, to an enlightened hand, pure satisfaction and delight, when it is considered that this is but ONE of the several buildings that are erecting for the instruction of the Heathen.
The first intelligence which met Mr. Garnon was the death of several who promised to be useful in the Colony: but he was not discouraged: his language was, "Lord, I desire to be thine!--enable me to give up my life cheerfully in this work, if thou shouldst require it!"
MR. GARNON, on arriving at the scene of his short course in Africa, entered on his office of Chaplain to the Colony of Sierra Leone with an earnest desire and prayer that he might be rendered instrumental to the present and everlasting happiness, both of the European Residents, and of the Settlers and Natives. He had engaged, with this view, to act as the Representative of the Church Missionary Society, in affording advice and assistance to its Missionaries. An important sphere of exertion thus opened before him; attended, however, with many difficulties.
Mr. Garnon commenced his Ministry at Free Town, on the 24th of November, 1816; and, for the twenty months that he survived, was enabled to labour with faithfulness, affection, and zeal. With a view to the edification of his congregation, he entered on an exposition of the Parables and Miracles of our Lord; interweaving such other passages as he deemed most applicable to circumstances, or suitable to the particular seasons commemorated by the Church.
Divine Service was held in the Court Room, twice every Sunday; the Church not being built. At Ten in the Morning, the Governor and Military attended; together with Europeans, and Nova-Scotia and Maroon Settlers, with some Liberated Negroes. In the Afternoon, at Three o'clock, the troops assembled with a few Settlers. A small proportion of the Nova-Scotia and Maroon Settlers frequent the Established Church: many of them having brought their own teachers from America, and others attending the Wesleyan Missionaries.
Early in January, 1817, Mr. Garnon assisted his Excellency Governor Mac Carthy in laying the foundation stone of the Church in Free Town. He had ardently desired to see a building appropriated to the service and worship of Almighty God. It was a memorable occasion. A great number of the inhabitants attended, and the Colonial and Liberated Children were present to witness the solemn ceremony. Mr. Garnon read part of the Eighth Chapter of the First Book of Kings, from the 22d to the 53d verse; interweaving some observations on the subject and the occasion. The Old Hundredth Psalm was sung at the conclusion.
The First Anniversary of the Sierra Leone Auxiliary Bible Society, of which Mr. Garnon was Secretary, was held on the 7th of January. It was not so well attended as he had expected to see it; but he encouraged himself in the hope that this Institution, patronized as it is by the Governor, would yet flourish, and would ultimately diffuse its genial influence, by the exertions of European and Native Christians, through all the bordering tribes and nations of that vast continent. A stock of Bibles and Testaments which he took with him, from the British and Foreign Bible Society and the Naval and Military Bible Society, was deposited in the Colonial Library; after supplying the Schools, and the Troops which touched on their passage from Senegal and [285/286] Goree to the Cape. To such Mahomedans as could read, he gave Arabic Bibles. Many of the Nova-Scotia and Maroon Settlers labour under great disadvantages, from not being able to read; but as their children are taught, it may be hoped that they will read the Sacred Volume to their parents, now that copies of it are become easy of access to them. Of the Liberated Negroes, many can now read well; and not a few have been brought, by the grace of God, to live under its influence: and it is truly delightful, and worthy of imitation, to observe how constantly the Scriptures are with them the companion of their leisure hours. The Reader may refer, for very encouraging evidence on this subject, to pp. 343-345, and 464-467, of the last Volume.
The Second Anniversary of this Society was held in January, 1818. Still but few of the Nova-Scotia and Maroon Settlers attended. The Liberated Negroes, it is confidently hoped, will, for the future, stimulate them by their example; as they are manifesting a willingness to aid every useful institution that has been brought before them.
Mr. Garnon was urged by the Governor to take on him the office of a Magistrate. He begged permission to decline, fearing that the union of that office with that which he already held might have an unhappy effect on the minds of the people. After a little longer residence, however, among them, he was prevailed on to accept it; finding that, in his particular situation, it would give him more influence in enforcing regulations for the good order of those committed to his charge. He found it necessary so to arrange the duties which thus devolved on him, as that he should not be always liable to calls of this nature. With the other Gentlemen, therefore, who held the office with him, he agreed that each should appropriate one day in the week.
At the latter end of April and the beginning of May, Mr. Garnon was attacked by Cholera Morbus. These attacks were, through divine mercy, soon subdued; but they awakened painful apprehension concerning him. As he well knew how rapidly this disease in Tropical Climates often terminates death, he was led to meditate much on the probable result with regard to himself; and his mind being deeply impressed with the responsibility attached to the station which he held as a Christian Minister, he endeavoured to improve this season by self-examination and prayer. He was mercifully recovered in a few days, and resumed his Ministerial Duties with increased vigour. On the following Sunday, he preached a solemn and affecting Sermon, from Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou mayest be no longer steward; selecting such Psalms for the Service as indicated the grateful state of his heart.
The Two Services on Sunday, at the Court Room, were continued till the beginning of' July; and the evening spent in the instruction of Children, who came to him at his house for that purpose. Finding, however, that the Afternoon Service was very indifferently attended, and the Rains setting in, he considered it adviseable to suspend that Service; but, in its place, he undertook to visit the Military Hospital in the Afternoon; and in the Evening, to go to Soldiers' Town, about a quarter of a mile from Free Town, to preach to the troops and their families. He had no Public Lecture in the week; but had he lived to see the Church finished, he intended to open it once on the week-days, for the further instruction of the people.
From the first week of his arrival, Mr. Garnon had been in the habit of frequently visiting the different Towns in the mountains, which are peopled by Negroes who have been liberated from Slave Ships; and where they are not only trained to habits of civilization, but are brought under the sound of the everlasting Gospel. Here seems to be the gathering together of almost all the nations on this part of the vast Continent of Africa: and the inhuman traffic in Slaves is thus so wonderfully overruled by Providence, that these our fellow-creatures, debased by ignorance and sin, shall be taken in bonds to a place, where friends shall free their bodies from fetters, and where He has provided Missionaries to instruct them in the things which belong to their everlasting peace, and to bring them into that freedom which Christ bestows! Good is brought out of evil; and the Gospel, [286/287] with all its blessings, is, by this unlooked-for means, diffusing itself among the sons and daughters of injured Africa! Missionaries from the Church Missionary Society are placed as Superintendents over these Towns. In their comfort and success Mr. Garnon felt the most lively concern. Though younger in years than most of them, he not only gained their affection and confidence, but sought to be a fellow-helper with them, that he might be a partaker of their joy. He delighted to instruct the Negroes, whether young or old: and his heart was often refreshed by these affecting seasons; while they evidenced their joy on his going among them, by their countenances and expressions.
As the Rains came on, sickness among the Europeans became very general The Mission was soon deprived of two of its Members. Mr Brennand, a Schoolmaster, but recently arrived, died in June; and, in July, the Rev. Leopold Butscher departed from the labours which he had long sustained on this coast. In referring to these deaths, and the many other losses which the Mission had sustained, Mr. Garnon thus writes, in a Letter to a friend:--
It is most affecting to see so frequently one and another taken from us, in the great Cause in which we are engaged. But the will of the Lord be done! "He moves in a mysterious way." His words are, Be still! and know that I am God.--What thou knowest not now, thou shalt know hereafter.
In consequence of Mr. Butscher's removal, the whole superintendence of the Christian Institution, at Leicester Mountain, devolved on Mr. Garnon. This was a charge for which he felt very anxious, and which materially increased his exertions; but his prevailing desire was, not to consider his own personal ease, but to do what he could in the service of his Heavenly Master. Much of his time was necessarily spent among the Children at Leicester Mountain, and they soon formed an attachment to him.
His health was wonderfully preserved during this rainy season, amidst great exposures, to which his official duties subjected him, so that he was generally able to discharge them. He seemed to fear nothing, when the path of duty was plain before him. His faith was firmly fixed on God; as will appear in the following extract from a Letter to his friend, the Rev. W. Carus Wilson:
When a soldier of the King, I have seen men fall on my right hand and on my left; but Death never came nigh me. And so I can say now: though exposed to frequent rains, and to Africa's hot sun, yet I am spared--and why? Because the Lord has been my helper: therefore under the shadow of His wings will I trust! Has he not said, The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night? Have not I been exposed to both these dangers? Blessed be His name, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep! Oh for more of this "precious" faith!
Toward all the Missionaries Mr. Garnon manifested a spirit of Christian Love; rejoicing with them in their prosperity, and sympathizing in their difficulties and trials. He was raised above that low jealousy of mind which cannot rejoice in the success of others, while it is withheld from our own labours; and was accustomed to say, that though he lamented that he could not discover those blessed effects from his own Ministry which he earnestly desired, yet he felt it an honour to be associated with those Servants of Christ who were made instrumental in promoting the Divine Glory in the salvation of immortal souls. The half-yearly Meetings, at which he presided, were held in his own house; and his spirit and conduct, on these occasions, will long live in the memory of those who assembled, as tending greatly to encourage them, and to cement them together in the indissoluble bonds of the Gospel. At one of these Meetings, held in November, 1817, he proposed that there should be a Prayer Meeting among them for the general success of the Mission once a month, but more especially for the one with which they were connected; and that they should also unite in contributing to the support of the Society. An account of these Meetings has already been given in Letters to the Secretaries of the Church Missionary Society from himself and the Rev. Mr. Johnson: see the Eighteenth Report of the Society, pp. 142-144; or the Missionary Register for 1818, pp. 464, 465. In witnessing and participating in these refreshing seasons, his heart was often [287/288] overwhelmed with gratitude and joy; and he would ardently wish that the Members of the Society could be present, as he felt that no Christian among them would ever repent of contributing his utmost aid to the promoting of the temporal and eternal welfare of these injured Children of Africa.
Early in January, 1818, Mr. Garnon, with his two esteemed friends, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Cates, visited the Bullom Shore, where Mr. Nyländer had been long stationed. His account of this excursion, given in a Letter to a Member of the Committee--John Corrie, Esq.--will give some idea of the simplicity and cheerfulness of his manner on these occasions; and will serve also to discover the character and mode of thinking of the Natives:--
Yongroo is opposite to Sierra Leone, about eight miles from us; but, on account of a strong tide, cannot be reached by rowing that distance, the boat being carried away by its force. It commonly happens that the passage is four or six hours.
We spent the greater part of two days among the Bulloms, and made as many excursions into the Native Towns as we could. Though numerous, these Towns are very small.
Of course, we paid our first respects to King George, Mr. Nyländer's Headman, and, in fact, King of the whole of Bullom. He is now in his hundred-and-third year; but possesses the use of all his faculties--very courteous, and extremely kind, if you will but be kind to him: but, as we had no presents to offer, we met with a common reception; and afterward parted, well pleased with having seen a King George on the shores of Africa. He made several inquiries after the good people in England--particularly mentioned the names of Wilberforce and Thornton--and was sorry to hear that Mr. Thornton was dead.
While we were there, Dalla Modu came. He is also a Headman, but subject to King George. He was rather a superb-looking gentleman, having a sword suspended from his right shoulder, and a silver chain round his neck; and was attended by eight of his people, armed with muskets. We were received by him very graciously, and seated in due order; and as Mr. Nyländer informed him that I was the Marraboo, or Priest, to the Headman at Sierra Leone, I was immediately placed on his own stool; which is something like a Turnabout at a Fair, where you place your pence, in hopes that it may stop at some grand prize, deposited in the outer circle.
After some conversation with Dalla Modu, I was accosted by one on my right, whom I found to be his Armour-bearer, Privy-Counsellor, and Priest: so I thought him to be in office to Dalla Modu what I was to the Governor at Sierra Leone; and, as I had also been once engaged as an Armour-bearer, though I never came to the title of Privy-Counsellor, yet, on the whole, we two seemed pretty well matched: so I began my "pallaver" thus:--"Marraboo! you sabby [know] God?" "Yes; me sabby too much;" that is, very well.--"You pray God?' ' "Yes; five times a day."--"You think God hear you?" "Yes."--"Why?" "Because me pray Mahomed."--"Who is he?" "He! he all a same as Moses and Abraham. You be white man: you sabby book: me no sabby book, but me sabby that."--"Who told you?" "One man he come long tay tay country;" that is, afar off.--"You think Mahomed be friend of God all a same as Moses! Why he no do what God tell him? Jesus Christ, he Son of God. He speak all the same; therefore HE be God's friend. Now, Marraboo, think: Suppose Dalla Modu be your Headman: he make one law in your town. Suppose you come and say, 'Me no care for Dalla Modu'--you think he no make pallaver with you?" "Yes, too much."--" So God make pallaver with Mahomed, because he break His law." By this time he was risen from his seat, and about to leave; muttering as he went, "You be white man: you sabby book too much." "Well," said I, "suppose I do, I tell you true, yet you no care. Now I be all the same as one man that walk in a big path: I look one town, [i. e. I see,] I sabby where I go. You be all the same as one man that walk in the bush: you no look one place: you no sabby where you go. Then you live there: by and bye God come, he put fire in the bush, you burn for ever and ever."
Toward the latter end of this month (January, 1818), the Second Chaplain, the Rev. John Collier, arrived, with Mrs. Collier and others. Mr. Garnon received these friends with his accustomed kindness; welcoming them as fellow-labourers; and now indulging the hope that they should be able to extend their exertions.
In the beginning of February, Mr. Johnson being disabled from his labours by fever, Mr. Garnon went up to Regent's Town, in order to take his friend's post on the Sunday.
 The situation of Regent's Town (he writes) is delightful. The first view which you have of it, in going from Leicester Mountain, is as you emerge from a thick wood and are descending into a valley. There, on a small eminence, stand the Church, the Parsonage House, and the Schools. In all directions are seen the houses of the Liberated Negroes. The whole is surrounded with "cloud-capt mountains," covered with an almost impenetrable forest. I arrived there about seven o'clock on Saturday Evening, and found his Communicants, to the number of seventy, assembled for religious edification, and to pray for the success of the Mission. I was much delighted to hear about twenty of them give a simple but affecting account of the state of their minds. They seem to labour under trials from without and from within--from their own country-people, and from the temptations of Satan and the struggles of a depraved heart. They speak strongly as to their good and their bad heart, the one opposing the other, so that they cannot do the things that they would.
Mr. Garnon noted down some of the expressions which he heard from the Natives at this Meeting. They will serve to shew the similarity of Christian feelings and conflicts under every clime; and will gladden the heart of the sincere servants of Christ, by manifesting the influence of Divine Grace among these people.
The first began thus--
"Trouble too much live in my heart. Me be poor sinner. Me no sabby any thing. Me no see, me no feel, till God open my heart. Me live long time in my country: me no sabby God: me sabby the Devi1. Now my heart trouble me too much. Me think me have two hearts; one good, one bad. Good heart tell me pray--bad heart tell me no pray. I try pray God--my bad heart trouble me: he speak: he say, 'No pray: go work. One man come in your house: suppose you no go home, he thieve something.' I can't pray: me sinner too much." We exhorted him to prayer, and told him that these were the suggestions of the Evil One, and that he must therefore continue in prayer.
Another man related the opposition which he met with from his wife, who even proceeded to hard blows. Mr. Johnson said, "I'll put her in gaol." "No Massa," said he, "you can't do that, Suppose she beat me, me kneel down--me pray."
A third man stated the difficulties which he met with from his country-people when he talked to them about Jesus Christ. They called him "White Man's Child;" and told him that white man make him fool. He went one day to see some of them, and tell them "God's pallaver." Ten or twelve were present. One man, worse than the rest, said--"Me no want God. Me no want Jesus Christ. Where he live? Me no look him. Me want cassada to eat. Me no like white man's fashion: suppose me sabby white man's fashion, me be fool." The other answered, "Suppose you no sabby Jesus Christ, and suppose you die, you go to hell." "Hell!" said he,"what place that? I no look that place in my country." "Why Hell be one place where big fire live for ever and ever." "Ah!" said he, "I like that. Suppose you give me plenty of cassada to roast, that be good too much. Me sabby go there!" The poor fellow knew not how to reply to such a reprobate, while he continued, "What good thing Jesus Christ do for you? You sabby him--you be fool." But God graciously put a word in the mouth of his Servant which slew this Philistine. "Why," said he, "look me--look you. Me have good clothes: me be clean: me sabby Jesus Christ: me sabby God's book. Now look you--you no clothes: you be dirty: you be bushman" [that is, ignorant, senseless]--you no sabby God, but the Devil." This simple but just and striking contrast had a wonderful effect. The lion was tamed, and the monster changed into a man. He hung down his head; and seemed convinced that to know Jesus Christ will never make a man a fool. He has since never opposed, but willingly comes to hear the Word of God. A visible change has taken place in him; and we may hope that this was the beginning of good things to his soul.
Mr. Garnon thus speaks of a Sunday at Regent's Town--
On the Sunday we had Four Services, as is usual there. Early in the morning, was a Meeting for prayer: at Ten o' Clock, was the regular Morning Service, after which the Lord's Supper was administered: at Three, another Meeting for prayer: and at Half-past Six, Evening Service. It was a Sabbath greatly blessed to me, and, I believe, to the Congregation.
In referring, in the same Letter, to the consistent walk of these Christian People, he adds--
I am well satisfied with the conduct [289/290] of these dear Negroes. We could scarcely expect such evidences from those who have so long been far distant from God by wicked works and gross ignorance. Their general characteristic is HOLY OBEDIENCE. I have frequently noticed the conscientious regard which they appear to have to the different duties allotted them for the day. When Mr. Johnson has been out, they often labour more than common to do a good day's work.
We cannot but interrupt the Narrative a moment, to observe that here is a very extraordinary display of the mercy and power of our Heavenly Master. Taken in connection with other instances of His manifest presence with His servants in other quarters of the great field of the world, it supplies abundant encouragement to all sincere Christians to bear up patiently under all the enmity and opposition which they have to encounter; uniting the wisdom of the serpent with the simplicity of the dove, and maintaining and extending their Master's Kingdom in that spirit of self-denial and heavenly love which alone will secure His blessing. It will be seen, in a future part of this Number, that Mr. Johnson is arrived on a visit to this country, and has brought with him the most encouraging reports of the increase of religion among his Negroes.
Mr. and Mrs. Horton, who had been stationed as Schoolmaster and Schoolmistress at the Christian Institution, having left the service of the Church Missionary Society, Mr. Garnon's anxiety and exertions for the good of the Children collected there were, in consequence, much augmented. Mr. Collier, however, greatly relieved him. He wrote to the Secretary, on the 10th of March--
Mr. Collier has been very active in rendering me his assistance; both in our own immediate station in Free Town, and in our concerns at the Christian Institution. Had it not been for his timely arrival and co-operation, I should have felt the charge which I had undertaken at Leicester Mountain more than I was able to bear.
He adds, in another Letter, of the 5th of May--
Had it not been for the seasonable assistance rendered me by my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Collier, I know not what we should have done. They kindly engaged to go up to Leicester Mountain, and take charge of the Institution, till their house in Free Town should be ready. On their return, we took up our abode there till last Saturday, when we were relieved by the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Wilhelm.
The residence of which he here speaks was for about six weeks. Most indefatigably and cheerfully did he labour, during this period, in every way, to promote the welfare, order, and improvement of the Young Negroes, who were not a little pleased have him among them. Speaking of them, in a Letter to the Rev. W. C. Wilson, he says--
What are my feelings, when surrounded by this group of black lambs! When I hear the names of Wilberforce, Buchanan, and many more such Worthies, my heart is full.--I pray that they may become like those whose names they bear, in all holy conversation and godliness.
By his kind and affable manner of conducting himself towards these Children, and by his readiness to comply with every reasonable request which could conduce their happiness, he won their hearts; and, at the same time, gained their respect, by the firm maintenance of authority. He loved to encourage and reward the diligent; but he failed not to reprove and punish the disobedient.
On Mr. Garnon's return to Free Town, he found Mr. Collier much indisposed, and quite disabled from duty. He continued thus for some time: on his recovery, it was agreed, that each should take his week alternately, for fulfilling their parochial duties; and that, in general, one of them only should remain in Free Town on the Sunday, while the other should preach in some other Town in the Colony which might be destitute, or should supply for any Missionary who from sickness should be unequal to perform his own services. This last arrangement could not frequently be carried into effect; Mr. Collier being soon taken ill again, and rendered [290/291] incapable of much exertion. Mr. Garnon, however, entered on the plan, in the hope of continuing it. He went early, one Sunday morning, to Congo Town, and preached there: thence, accompanied by many of his hearers, he proceeded to Wilberforce Town, where he preached also; returning home in the afternoon, after walking six miles, and having two Services.
Having found, by several months' experience, that it was inconvenient to have an Afternoon's Service at the Court Room, he proposed that the Troops should be brought down to a country-building near to his house, which was otherwise used as a School; and that Service should be held there--continuing the one at Soldiers' Town in the evening, as the weather would admit.
It was now early in June. The rains were again coming on, and the sickness usually attendant on this season began to appear. Some of the Missionaries, tried by these afflictions, received fresh proofs of his Christian sympathy and tenderness; while, by his cheerful piety, he enlivened and encouraged them in their hours of suffering. In the beginning of July, he rode to the different Towns in the mountains; and was received by all the Missionaries with that regard and respect which they ever manifested toward him. He entered with great feeling into all their proceedings and returned home, much gratified that he had been thus able to accomplish his wishes, apprehensive that he should not have it in his power to repeat his visit till the end of the Rains: but, alas! little did his friends anticipate that this was his last visit to them.
The rains on the following Sunday were so heavy, that he was prevented from performing Divine Service, in the morning, at the Court Room: but he preached to the Troops in the afternoon, and visited the Military Hospital; and, in the evening, went to Soldiers' Town. The sermon which he had prepared for the morning was from the Miracle recorded in the Ninth Chapter of St. John's Gospel, After exhorting, in conclusion, those whose spiritual sight had been restored, boldly to confess Christ before men, he would have closed his Ministry among them with that animating exhortation--unconscious how strikingly applicable they were to his own case--Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
By the exertions of this day Mr. Garnon was much fatigued. Soon after he had retired to rest, he was suddenly called up by a messenger from Kissey Town, sent to inform him that Mr. Wenzel, who had been ill several days, considered himself dying, and begged that he would hasten to him. Shortly after, another messenger came with a similar entreaty. Mrs. Garnon, dreading the effects of such an unseasonable exposure, and especially under his particular circumstances, affectionately and earnestly remonstrated with him on the danger, requesting that he would defer his visit till the morning. He felt it uncertain, however, whether Mr. Wenzel might live till the morning; and, considering that his visit might be of importance to the aged sufferer, or to the Society with which he was connected, he thought it his duty to comply with the request. With a view to relieve the solicitude of Mrs. Garnon, he said to her, "My Dear, do not be anxious about me. I believe it is my duty to go; THEREFORE I am not at all afraid:" adding, "The medical attendant is sent for: surely, if he go on his business, I should not hesitate in going on mine." About two o'clock he set off; and scarcely had he mounted his horse, when the rain descended very heavily, and continued to do so for three or four hours; so that, in riding three miles, he was completely wet through.
No symptoms of illness immediately appearing, his friends had fondly hoped he might have escaped injury, though there was evidently in him a want of his usual energy. On the following Thursday Evening, he complained of head-ache; and the next morning, finding himself very ill, medical advice was immediately procured. His attack was pronounced inflammatory, resulting from his exposure during the night on his visit to Mr. Wenzel; and not the general fever of the country.
His sufferings now became very acute: but, on the following Sunday, he was considerably relieved by the use of the warm-bath. In an humble and thankful frame of mind, he said to his afflicted wife, who was [291/292] overwhelmed with gratitude to see her beloved husband better, "y dear Mary! I have suffered greatly; and I know you have felt for me, and prayed for me. This is a trial to us both; but it is needful, and I trust will be for our benefit. Our happiness hitherto has been uninterrupted--we have enjoyed many mercies. That gracious promise--My God shall supply all your need out of his riches in glory by Christ Jesus--has been powerfully impressed on my mind, from the first. My need is that of patience; and it shall be supplied to me."
On the Rev. Mr. Johnson's coming from Regent's Town to sit up with him, he inquired, with, great affection; after all the Missionaries; and, with great earnestness, prayed, "May God bless them!" Finding himself continue very ill, he said to Mr. Johnson, "I should like to have more medical advice. I think it right to use all proper means, and then shall leave the event with my Heavenly Father, to whom I have long since committed myself and my all." More medical assistance was immediately called in; but still no serious danger was apprehended. His sufferings were at times Great; but calmness and resignation pervaded his soul. When in pain and much weakness, he would cry out, as he frequently did, "I need patience:" he would always add, with firm confidence, "It shall be given me! It is a part of that need which shall be supplied."
The nature of his illness was such as to produce almost constant delirium; but, in his intervals of reason, his mind was firmly stayed on the Divine Promises; and those truths, which he had so faithfully and earnestly preached to others, were now his support and consolation.
Mr. Cates kindly succeeded Mr. Johnson in his attendance upon him; and, from that time, remained with him, night and day, as long as he continued in the body; Mr. Cates addressed to the Secretaries of the Society a mournful account of the trials of this season, in which various particulars are related of Mr. Garnon's illness and death, for which the reader may turn to the Missionary Register for 1818, pp.481-484.
On the morning of the day of his death; he was considered better; but an evident and distressing change suddenly taking place about four o'clock in the afternoon, those hopes, which his afflicted and anxious friends had so willingly cherished, were at once blasted: The Missionaries had all assembled at his house, for the purpose of paying the last tribute of respect to the memory of the late Mrs. Collier:--and now they united in earnest prayer, if so be that God would, in mercy, spare His young servant, and restore him to his family and the Church; or, if He had appointed otherwise, that He would afford sustaining grace in this trying hour. It was a season, the solemnity of which, under such peculiar circumstances, may be better conceived than described.
But the appointed time was come; and, early on the morning of the 29th of July 1818, his happy spirit was released from the body, and entered into rest.
At the early age of twenty-seven was this devoted Servant of God thus cut off, in the midst of increasing exertions and usefulness! What a dream is life! All flesh is grass, and all the
goodliness thereof as the flower of the field. Many and chequered were the scenes through which he passed in his short pilgrimage--exposed to innumerable dangers. When surrounded by the rude instruments of death on the field of battle, not one was suffered to pierce him. He was spared to labour and to fall in a nobler service--a Martyr in his Saviour's Cause!
In the exercise of his Ministry, it may truly be said of him, that he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. His mind was so deeply impressed with a sense, both of the value and of the imminent danger of the souls committed to his charge, and of his own consequent responsibility, that he earnestly and boldly enforced on all, Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The prevailing feature in his character and in his Ministry, was an affectionate simplicity, animated by fervent zeal. There was no aim at the display of himself, but a plain statement and a faithful application of Divine Truth.
The situation which he held as Colonial Chaplain subjected him to some difficulties; which did not, however, check his ardour, but him still more [292/293] earnestly to contend for the faith, and were the means of establishing him with greater firmness in his Christian course, by shewing him more clearly where his strength lay. This growth of his own mind in grace was manifest in his temper and life; but more especially in his public ministrations, which became peculiarly solemn and impressive. He was ever anxious to maintain the true dignity of his office; and, with holy courage, testified his disapprobation of what he deemed likely to have an immoral tendency.
In thus labouring for the spiritual welfare of the Church, Mr. Garnon was ever attentive to her external discipline, knowing its conduciveness and even necessity to permanent edification. He strove that all things should be done decently and in order, and that the worship of God should be conducted with seriousness and devotion. Every one who attended his Ministry there can testify, that, with all earnestness, he reproved, exhorted, yea, intreated them by the mercies and judgments of the Lord, to turn unto Him. May his solemn and faithful admonitions, and his earnest entreaties, now that his voice no longer proclaims among them Salvation by the Cross of Christ, sink deeply into every heart! lest, at the Great Day, he should stand up as a witness against them.
In the care of the youthful part of his Charge, Mr. Garnon felt a peculiar degree of concern. The Colonial schools, established in Free Town for the children of the Maroon and Nova-Scotia Settlers, were more immediately under his own eye. They had been formed on the British System; but, as the Church Missionary Society was about to take the whole charge of these and of all the Country Schools on itself, and had introduced the National System into the Schools already under its care, it became requisite that a uniform system should prevail throughout the whole establishment. Mr. and Mrs. Garnon had made themselves well acquainted, with the National System, by a diligent attendance at the Central School in Baldwin's Gardens; and were thereby prepared to co-operate with the Society in its design of bringing all the Schools of the Colony into the practice of that System. Some difficulties, however, naturally arose in accomplishing this plan; and time and opportunities were to be waited for: but these and all other obstacles Mr. Garnon cheerfully bore up against, and watched every occasion of acting toward the young with the greatest advantage.
Beside his attention to the Colonial Schools, he procured a Schoolmaster to teach, on Sundays, a considerable number of Liberated Boys, who were training up in Free Town for Mechanics, and had them taken to Church. On the week nights, he instructed them himself, after they had finished their day's work. They used to form an interesting groupe at his Family Worship, which always concluded their instruction.
He visited the Military Hospital once a week; and oftener, when necessary: taking care to have the Wards supplied with the Scriptures, and distributing such Tracts as he deemed applicable to the character and situation of the patients.
The improvement of the Colony in which he occupied so important a station lay thus, in every way, near his heart. This led him to promote, so far as he could, every useful Institution; whether it related to the welfare of a few individuals, or to the general good: and, in thus acting, he had but to follow the distinguished example of the Governor. He took an active part in the Poor Society, supported chiefly by Europeans; for the relief of those Settlers, who, from age or infirmity, became incapable of procuring a comfortable maintenance for themselves. In his visits to this class and his attention to their wants, he evinced his earnest desire to minister to their temporal and eternal happiness. In respect of these works of Charity, he laboured to impress on the minds of his hearers, the necessity of a right motive and end. A Sermon preached by him, for the benefit of this Society, from the Apostles' words--For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich--was especially directed to this end.
Mr. Garnon was naturally of a generous and amiable disposition; and, under the influence of Christian Principle, his heart was always open to the sufferings and distresses of others. With cheerfulness he often personally [293/294] ministered to the sick and afflicted. That spirit of Christian Charity glowed in him, which taught him to weep with them that wept, and rejoice with them that rejoiced. In the spirit of gratitude to his Heavenly Father for the many mercies freely conferred on him, he liberally contributed to the necessitous and destitute; and no calls of this nature were made to him in vain.
In the discharge of the relative duties of domestic life, he was most exemplary. It was AT HOME, as well as abroad, that he set a bright and lovely example of the power of Religion, to heighten every social comfort, and to sanctify every human enjoyment. As a Husband, she who can best testify to his character declares him to have been uniformly tender and affectionate: his sympathising heart soothed every feeling of anxiety and pain, while his cheerful piety animated and enlivened his whole conduct in this endearing relation. As a Master, he earnestly sought and prayed for the present and eternal happiness of those who served under him; and his deportment toward his native domestics did not fail to awaken their esteem and confidence.
The diffusion of the light of the Gospel, both in and around the Colony, was the prevailing desire of his mind. In a Letter addressed to the Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, a few months before his death, he writes--
I mentioned to you, in my last, a wish that I had of seeing you on the shores of Africa: but, if that be impracticable, I would hope that some judicious friend will visit us; not for six weeks, as Mr. Bickersteth visited Africa, but for six months, during the Dry Season. He would then be able to arrange many things, as to the Settlement of all the Brethren in the Colony, and to join with us in proposing plans for the extension of Christ's Kingdom beyond the Colony. We should not only have a sufficient number of Christian Teachers for the different Towns in the Colony, but two or three extra hands, in case of any being sick or dying; and to enable, in the Dry Season, one and another, by turns, to push forth among the Natives, and preach the Gospel to them. I should be very glad to enrol myself in the number, and take my turn; and, if it had not been for my engagements in the Colony, I should, as I had purposed, have put this in execution, on Mr. Collier's arrival.
In writing, at the same time, to the Assistant Secretary, he says, in reference to some difficulties which had occurred--
I often think of you, in my different engagements; and anxiously wish you were near me, to advise in many important circumstances which occur. But as this cannot be effected when we wish it, there is great comfort in knowing that we have an Almighty Friend, who can direct us in the greatest difficulties. You sought His presence and aid, in all your undertakings, when in Africa; and surely He blessed you! I shall not repeat to you our troubles. They are noticed in my Letter to Mr. Pratt, and will, no doubt, awaken your sympathy: but they teach us, my Dear Friend, the very great necessity for a close examination into the motives and dispositions of all those who come out to labour among the Heathen.
On the same subject he thus writes to the Secretary, shortly after--
I have been led, by painful experience, to perceive the necessity of a strict and serious examination into the motives and views of all those who may offer themselves as Missionary Labourers. The consideration of local circumstances is not sufficiently attended to, by those who are about to engage themselves in a foreign land. The thought of going abroad, of seeing new countries, black faces, huge snakes, and wild beasts, captivates us for a time, and fills us with strange notions, as improper as they are absurd. Whereas, did such a man endeavour to lay these things aside, and inquire if he could give himself up to the same service as that in which he is about to engage, with regularity and constancy, in his own native land, he would then perhaps find himself better prepared to meet the real difficulties of his station: if he could not so give himself up, how would he be able to do it in Africa, among discouragements and temptations?
These sentiments, from such a man in such circumstances, demand the serious consideration of all who offer themselves to the work of Christ among the Heathen.
But his own career of labour was drawing to a close. And yet the nearness of that close was but little anticipated. He was, indeed, alive and awake to the especial duty of [294/295] redeeming the time in such a field of labour as Africa; but both he and Mrs. Garnon had been favoured with an unusual measure of health. After a residence of nearly a year and a half in the Colony, including the Rainy Season of 1817, he wrote thus, at the beginning of May 1818--
I am happy to record again the tender mercies of our Heavenly Father toward us. We are still in the enjoyment of good health and spirits, which are a great treasure in Africa. I do not know that either of us has had a head-ache, more than what we might have expected in our native land. I pray that we may ever feel truly grateful to God for such signal mercies.
My wife is always very busy; whether in Free Town, or at Leicester Mountain. While there, she gained considerable strength, and was enabled to exert herself very much among the Children. A mutual attachment was soon formed between her and her little Charge; and they expressed much concern when "Mammy" left them. She has had the Colonial Girls' School for some time under her charge: this, and her own engagements, fully occupy her hands. We find it needful to regard the divine admonition--Work while it is day. The uncertainty of life in Africa calls upon us to do, with all our might, whatsoever our hand findeth to do.
And when his Lord came, He found His servant thus labouring. In less than three months after writing this, he was called, at an early hour of his day of toil, to enter into the joy of his Lord.
And he maintained the same spirit to the last. A very few weeks before his death he wrote to the Secretary--
The Bishop of London has honoured me with a very excellent and judicious Letter. We are, I trust, doing some good; but our situation, in Free Town, is peculiar. Pray for us, that we may be filled with all wisdom.
But his work was done! He is now no longer the subject of pain and weakness. No imperfection now mingles with his services--no temptations assail him--no shades of sorrow tinge his highest enjoyments. The Sun shall no more smite him by day, nor the Moon by night. He shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more: for the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed him, and lead him to living fountains of waters. Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.