Project Canterbury

The Life of Charles Alan Smythies
Bishop of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa

By Gertrude Ward

Edited by Edward Francis Russell, M.A.

London: Offices of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa, 1899.



Address delivered by the Right Rev. the Bishop of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa, to the Clergy and Members, of the Mission assembled in Synod in Christ Church, Zanzibar, in the third week after Easter, 1884.


This Address was originally delivered from notes, in three parts--one on each day on which the Synod met. It mostly deals with matters connected with the worship, laws, and outward order of the Church, as they bear upon our special work in this part of the world. In the three days' Retreat which preceded the Synod I had an opportunity of treating of those things which concern our own personal, spiritual, and inner life, as also of what should be the characteristics of the Christian ministry, which will account for those subjects being but little touched upon in this address. The Synod met each day in the church at Zanzibar, and at the close of our deliberations I feel sure that all of us were deeply thankful to Almighty God for the harmony and concord which prevailed throughout. We began with very decided differences of opinion on many points which were to be brought before us, but in every case some way of ensuring acceptance from both sides was found, so that every resolution was passed without a dissenting voice.

My Reverend Brethren,--We are met together in the full belief that God the Holy Ghost will guide our deliberations. We are warranted in this belief by the promise of our Lord that He would send down His Holy Spirit upon His disciples, and that He should guide them into all truth. In accordance with this promise we find the first Council of the Church, which met at Jerusalem, claiming that its decisions were really the decisions of the Holy Ghost. 'It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us' is the expression used in the letters by which the Council declared its decisions to the Gentile Christians. If we consider the history of the Church's progress in the world I think it becomes clear to us that diocesan organisation is according to the Divine will. Wherever the Church gained a firm foothold under the most dissimilar circumstances, and in countries widely distant from one another, we find the same system always adopted sooner or later. And diocesan synods were from the first, or very soon became, a part of that system. The Bishop does not appear as an autocrat, ruling according to his own caprice. If the clergy were bidden to do nothing without their Bishop, the Bishop was bound to take counsel with his Presbyters in synod assembled. We are met together, then, my Reverend Brethren, under a. sense of solemn responsibility, according to the ancient rule of the Church and according, as we believe, to the will of God. We have invoked the aid of the Holy Spirit. I need hardly remind you therefore that this is no place for hot discussion, or a desire merely to gain victory in argument. It would be better to pass no resolution, and to appear to come to no conclusion in the matters before us, than to break the harmony of brotherly love which should reign amongst us. We ought to consider the subjects before us with the utmost gravity, as affecting the work of God and the good of the souls to whom we are sent, and at the same time with the utmost charity toward one another. There are sure to be differences of opinion, but it is for us to take care that they cause no word of bitterness. We must be careful also to throw no blame on any methods pursued in past time in the working of the Mission. We know that in such a work much must be at first tentative, and may have to be modified by experience. Also I confidently hope that no word will escape us of disparagement of the work of others, and no comparisons drawn between different parts of the work of the Mission, with a view to magnifying the relative importance of this or that part. We come together to strengthen one another's hands. We all have one object in view--the glory of God--the good of the souls to whom we are sent.

I take this opportunity, my Reverend Brethren, of setting before you the principle of action which, God helping me, I should wish to adopt in discharging the duties of the office to which I have been called. I wish to allow the largest liberty in all methods which may be adopted by individual priests for the sake of deepening devotion and reverence, especially in the direction of ancient custom and Catholic precedent. Holding that the Church of England is a part of the Catholic Church, I will not hamper the liberty of any priest who interprets her rules in the most Catholic sense; by which I mean one who takes for his standard of interpretation the Canon of St. Vincent, 'Quod semper, quod unique, quod ab omnibus.'

I should only feel bound to have recourse to the restraining power which has been committed to the Bishops of the Church for the purpose of checking crime, unbelief, irreverence, or carelessness, with which, under our circumstances, I confidently hope it will never be my painful duty to deal.

I look to you, my Reverend Brethren, to support me in carrying out these principles. If one of our brethren adopts a practice we do not understand, let us not condemn, but let us inquire the motive. If the motive is pure--a desire to promote the love of God, to promote reverence and devotion, to promote dignity of worship--there may be ground for difference of opinion: there is no ground for condemnation.

I will now call your attention to the first subject which comes before us for consideration--the subject of marriage, which is one of the most difficult with which missionaries have to deal. It is also one of the most important, because upon it seems to hang the whole fabric of social life. If a low view is taken of marriage, that low view affects for evil all social relations. If a pure and lofty view is taken of marriage, that raises into a higher atmosphere all other social and domestic relations. Now there is undoubtedly a great temptation to the missionary sometimes to deflect from what seems to have been the universal rule of the Church, and to allow polygamy in certain cases to baptized converts. In so grave a matter it is clear that no Bishop or priest dare act on his own authority, but must defer to the general ruling of the Church. Hence I see that the first Act of the last Synod of the diocese of British Kaffraria, which no doubt had the same difficulties in view, affirmed the rule of Christian monogamic marriage as one to be followed in all cases. And I think we can see certain good reasons for rigidly adhering to this rule. The heathen with whom we have to do have been brought up with totally different ideas of marriage to those which have become ingrained in us by centuries of Christian tradition. We find, therefore, the greatest difficulty in teaching them the true conception of Christian marriage. No doubt this has been very generally the case with heathen tribes. The Church in her laws has therefore taken every means to enforce and preserve a high idea of the sanctity of marriage, knowing how easy it is, when exceptions are allowed, to descend to a lower level. These laws must press hardly at times on individuals. We find a man earnestly desiring baptism, who, in accordance with the law of his country, has married several wives. Say that, according to the customs of his tribe, if these women are put away, there is nothing before them but disgrace and infamy. In such a case we cannot urge the man to put away his wives without regard to their future, because that would be contrary to the principles of justice. At the same time, we cannot allow him to be baptized, because that would be contrary to the purity of Christian marriage. The only thing we can do is to bid him to wait till God makes a way, consoling ourselves with the thought that God is not a machine, that He is not tied even to the means which He has Himself appointed, that He can, when He will and as He will, unite people to His Church, and that we can with the utmost confidence leave such a case to His Fatherly goodness.

As marriage is a matter of such great importance, we should be most particular about its solemnisation under all circumstances. We must remember that marriage is an institution antecedent to Christianity, and is a reality apart from it. At least we oughf to take every pains to make it a reality amongst those heathen who are under our influence. We should teach those who are to be married to pledge themselves to each other by a solemn form of promise, publicly made, before a responsible person, preferably, though not necessarily, the priest in charge of the station at which they live. Unfortunately in our case mixed marriages are necessary, especially on the mainland, where, from the want of the influence of Christian women, there are many more male converts than female. In the case of these marriages the service of the Church cannot be used, but every precaution should be taken to make them binding. Wherever there is any probability that there will be desertion in time on the part of the heathen partner, we should use our efforts to dissuade from the marriage. The marriage service can only be used in its integrity in the case of both parties being Christian. It is evident from the structure of the service that it can only be used by a priest, and that it would be a presumptuous breach of ecclesiastical propriety for a deacon to use it. But in our circumstances it may be necessary (though I should only consider the most weighty reasons as justifying it) for a Christian marriage to be solemnised by a deacon. He will then be obliged to omit the forms of blessing which he is not commissioned to use. I commend this whole subject, my Reverend Brethren, to you as one that demands our greatest care. When, for instance, natives who have been on the mainland return to Zanzibar, and wish to be married by us, every inquiry should first be made as to whether or not they are already married. Grave complications must ensue, as experience has taught, from any want of care in this matter. The temptation will sometimes come to us, having regard especially to the native views of marriage, to allow persons who have been separated from their husbands or wives to be married to someone else, rather than live in open sin. We must then remember that, just as we contend that no act of any civil power, no laws of any court, can alter the law of God--so no service, however solemn, no act of priest or bishop, can make adultery to be lawful marriage. It remains the awful sin of adultery still with'the sin of sacrilege added on the part of those who have degraded their sacred office by using it for unholy purposes.

I now pass on to the subject of Ordination, and the principles on which I shall think it right to act in admitting persons to Holy Orders, or to what may, perhaps improperly, be called Minor Orders. I suppose in the matter of Ordinations a grave responsibility rests on the Bishop, which he cannot share with others; a responsibility towards God and His Church to take every precaution that no unfit person be admitted to minister in sacred things. I must not, therefore, be expected to ordain anyone to a sacred office because the necessities of a station seem to require it. I shall in every case try to consider the fitness of the man alone. It would seem to me to be more for the glory of God and the good of His people that, for instance, the communicants should receive the Blessed Sacrament occasionally, as a priest was able to visit the station, than that an unfit person should be ordained priest for the purpose of enabling them to communicate more often. I have no doubt that I shall often be called upon to dedicate men to the office of lay Reader. I wish it to be clearly understood that while of course such dedication will not be a bar to any further advancement, I shall not consider it to imply any claim to it. I shall then be left free to make any one a Reader, of whose moral character I am satisfied, if he shows missionary zeal and develops any gift of applying it. I shall also be able to use the office of lay Reader as a tentative beginning for those who may eventually become native deacons or priests. I would say much the same of deacons as I have said of lay Readers. It is clear that in the constitution of the Church there is great distinction between the office of a priest and that of a deacon. This will appear at once from the functions which they are severally commissioned to discharge. A deacon does nothing which a layman cannot do if authorised by the Church, or under the pressure of necessity, except administer the sacred elements at Holy Communion. A layman is bound to baptize in cases of absolute necessity, when a priest or deacon cannot be obtained." He can lead the congregation in prayer, preach, teach, and manage the secular work of the Church. A deacon is one who is commissioned habitually to do these same things. A priest, on the other hand, is ordained to the cure of souls, which implies that he is appointed by our Lord, the Head of the Church, to do certain things as His representative, which could not be done by one not so appointed. If, for instance, a priest celebrates the Holy Communion, as it is really our Lord who is acting by him, and using him as His instrument, whatever effect followed when our Lord used the words, 'This is my Body .... this is my Blood,' that same effect follows now when those same words are uttered in His name by His appointed minister. But as it would be contrary to the whole spirit and order of the Church, which is the kingdom of heaven upon earth, for anyone to appoint himself to any office, if any deacon or layman were to use those words that effect would not follow, because he has not been appointed by lawful authority to represent our Lord in that matter. There is then a great difference between the office of priest and deacon, and I shall not consider that ordination to the diaconate necessarily implies a claim to the further step of ordination to the priesthood. There are many good men who are doing the work of deacons who require a good deal of reading and study, not to speak of other qualifications, before they would be prepared for the priesthood. If I lay it down as a rule that ordination to the diaconate does not imply a claim to anything further, I am left free to ordain such men deacons. As, moreover, the cure of souls distinctly belongs to the office of the priesthood, I shall not consider the deacon or layman in charge of a sub-station as having independent authority, but as assisting the priest who is in charge of the central station. This only applies to spiritual matters. In temporal matters special arrangements must be made according to circumstances; but I should suggest, my Reverend Brethren, that the less you are involved in secular affairs, and the more you can leave them to others, the better it will be for the welfare of your spiritual work. The only true spiritual influence is that which is gained by a loving persuasion, and by the example of a holy life--all else, though seeming to give influence for the time, rather interferes with a true and lasting influence than otherwise. I say this well knowing how much you are obliged to have to do with temporal matters, but feeling that that makes it all the more important that we should keep the true nature of our work clearly before us.

I now pass on to speak of a very important subject which will come before our notice, the subject of Holy Baptism. The Church has always witnessed to the great care which ought to be taken in the preparation of adults for that Sacrament. I need only quote the Rubric of our own Prayer-book: 'Timely notice shall be given to the Bishop, or whom he shall appoint for that purpose, a week before at the least, by the parents or some other discreet persons, that due care may be taken for their examination, whether they be sufficiently instructed in the principles of the Christian religion; and that they may be exhorted to prepare themselves with prayers and fasting for receiving of this Holy Sacrament.' I think that the principle contained in this Rubric is especially important to us in this diocese, and I hope it will be carefully acted upon, only that I shall ordinarily appoint those in charge of central stations in distant districts to represent the Bishop for this purpose. The Rubric is evidently meant to ensure that no adults should be baptized except after a most careful preparation. There are other principles, which the Church seems to have adhered to in early times, affecting the sacrament of Holy Baptism, which we should do well carefully to note as supplying rules of action for us under very much the same circumstances. Infants are to be baptized as soon as possible, if there are any competent persons who will guarantee that they shall be brought up in the Catholic faith. But it does not seem that infants were ever permitted to be baptized without such guarantee, unless in danger of death. The order that children should have godparents is a witness to this principle.

No persons capable of promising for themselves to observe God's law should be baptized as infants, or without the proper dispositions of faith and repentance.

Those who are baptized as adults should as soon as possible be confirmed, and admitted to Holy Communion. In the primitive Church there seemed to be no hesitation about delaying Holy Baptism even for a long time, if there was any doubt about the persons to be baptized being sufficiently instructed or having the proper dispositions. But having been baptized they were at once admitted to Confirmation and Holy Communion. If an adult was sufficiently prepared for Holy Baptism, he was always held sufficiently prepared for the other means of grace which followed. I do not mean to say that there may not be a delay of one or two weeks to give opportunity for special instruction, provided that no adult is baptized who is not in such a spiritual condition, so far as we can tell, as would warrant his being admitted at once to Confirmation and Holy Communion. There may be necessary exceptions to this rule, but I should think they would be very rare. If any other rule be adopted, we are laying upon people very solemn responsibilities at their baptism, and not bringing them under the influence of those means of grace which our Lord has appointed to sustain the soul under its manifold difficulties and temptations. Besides, if we adopt the plan unknown to the primitive Church, as I believe, of allowing a time of probation between Baptism and Confirmation and Holy Communion, we tend to reproduce here that contented acquiescence in the division of Christians into Communicants and Non-communicants, which is such a painful anomaly in the Church at home. If a longer probation is needed, let it be before Baptism. Considering the great dangers to which the baptized are exposed in heathen and Mohammedan countries, we cannot wonder if they fall when we leave them without the strength given by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, without the constant supply of spiritual food which our Lord Jesus Christ has so bountifully provided.

I would also suggest, my Reverend Brethren, that careful instructions should be given to the baptized on the office of Holy Communion, which, if they follow the universal teaching of the Church up to comparatively recent times, they will look upon from the time of their baptism as their obligatory Sunday service. I know that there are some who shrink from encouraging people to be present at Holy Communion on those days when they do not communicate, for fear of discouraging the reception of the Blessed Sacrament, and leading them to put mere presence at the service in the place of it. If I thought it had any such tendency I should quite agree that such a practice was to be deprecated. But some considerable experience has led me to believe that regular attendance at the celebration of the Holy Communion is a great means of encouraging frequent reception of the Blessed Sacrament, and I think all clergymen who are in the habit of teaching their people to come regularly to the service will bear me out in this. On the other hand, I believe that keeping away people from the service when they are not going to communicate has had the opposite effect. Such persons, when for some cause or other they miss their Communion, have nothing brought before their eyes to remind them of their duty, and consequently are less likely to return to their regular rule of Communion. It is clear that for many hundreds of years all Christians in every part of the Church did consider the celebration of the Holy Communion as the Sunday service at which it was a matter of obligation that they should be present; and if, as has been alleged, such was not the practice of the primitive Church, it is at least very startling, and likely to be a difficulty to many minds, that the Church should have so universally, and for so long a period, departed from her primitive practice. But when I have been able to examine in its original context any passage brought forward to prove the difference of use in early times, I must say, with due deference to those who differ from me, that I have thought that it supported me in the belief that the practice of the primitive Church in this matter was the same as that which was afterwards universal. The fact that the highest class of penitents was allowed to be present throughout the service without communicating as a privilege; the fact that different classes, such as the unbaptized and the demoniacs, were dismissed by name, seem sufficient proof that all Christian people were as a rule expected to remain. Indeed, I do not find any evidence that for some centuries after our Lord ascended into heaven there was any other regular public service. And this cannot be surprising if we consider that the one command which was given by our Lord's own lips to Christians as to the special form of public worship which they were to adopt was contained in the words: touto pieite eiV thn emhn anamnhsin. It was recognised too that even ecclesiastics might have private reasons for not wishing to receive the Blessed Sacrament on any particular occasion, because we find that when their abstaining from Communion was likely to cause suspicion to fall upon the celebrating priest, they were to be inquired of, and if they had a good reason, personal to themselves, it was to be held sufficient. If, then, we would adopt the principles of the primitive Church, to which the Church of England refers us, we shall in every way we can make the celebration of the Holy Communion the Sunday service for Christians, and try to persuade them to consider it as obligatory. It is difficult for persons of limited capacity to become familiar with a liturgical service. Probably one such service is as much as we can expect many of them to know well. I believe it will be found more easy for them to enter into the meaning of the Office for Holy Communion than any other. This may at first sight seem to be contradicted by experience, because we find in England, even on the part of communicants, often a greater familiarity with the order for Morning Prayer. But surely that necessarily follows from the system which has been pursued. If from their earliest years children had been taught the meaning of the Holy Communion, if they had been taken by their parents Sunday after Sunday, as they are to Morning Prayer, and taught intelligently to follow the service, they would have grown up quite as familiar with that service as with the other. The celebration of the Holy Communion, being an act of the greatest reality and solemnity, and that expressed, as it ought to be, in every action of the officiating clergyman--having moreover a certain" element of dramatic power--more readily takes hold of the mind of the simple and uncultured than a service more purely intellectual, and, so to speak, literary. No doubt these worshippers have a very inadequate realisation of the whole meaning of the service, but that surely may be said of all of us, when we contrast our own conscious poverty of apprehension with the exceeding depth of the Mystery. It will of course be necessary for us to teach our people how to behave during the service, and to give them private prayers to use as they have opportunity, to help them in their devotions. We shall also have carefully to teach them the meaning of the service in its two aspects: that it is the means whereby our Lord gives us the sacred food of His Body and Blood to sustain our souls; that it is also the means whereby we plead the sacrifice of our redemption, and bring down all those blessings which He died on the cross to purchase for us. If we can make them understand that the prayers offered there go up to the throne of God supported, as it were, by all the power of the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, they will understand how it is of great advantage to be present at the service, even when they are not prepared to communicate. We shall teach them that to receive the Blessed Sacrament of our Lord's Body and Blood certainly is the most solemn act of a Christian's life, and the greatest help we can possibly have; but that the next best thing to that is to join in pleading His All-prevailing Sacrifice as far as we may, even while, from a sense of unworthiness, standing afar off and not venturing to claim our full privilege. I might say more and enlarge on the benefit to a Christian's life of that half-hour of solemn stillness in the morning, with its opportunities of private prayer, especially to those who have little room, and so little opportunity, at their own homes. But I have said enough, my Reverend Brethren, to show that if I feel strongly on this point it is not from a mere theory which I have formed, but from what has come under my own observation as well. I have been speaking hitherto of the worship of baptized Christians, as unbaptized persons are not admitted to the Holy Mysteries. There will be other services at which the heathen will be present as well as the faithful. It would seem to be well as a rule to make them as little liturgical as possible. Litanies, hymns, and intercessions would appear to be most suitable for these.

I feel that I ought to say a few words on the painful subject of Excommunication, which will be touched upon when one of the proposed resolutions comes before the Synod. The power of excommunication was undoubtedly given by our Lord to the Church; both expressly, as when He said, 'Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,'and by implication, as in the words, 'If he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.' Accordingly, we find St. Paul excommunicating the incestuous Corinthian. But all experience, as well as the canons of the Church, teach us that such a power ought to be used with the greatest care, and not even in the case of gross crimes--although there may be a moral certainty that they have been committed--if they are only known privately or by hearsay. It seems only safe or lawful to use such a power in dealing with notorious evil-livers; and when the painful necessity arises the Church directs that it should be notified to the Bishop as soon as possible. Priests should always remember that they are not police officers, but that in every case they should lean to mercy. But if baptized people are proved to be living in open sin, which they refuse to give up, or for which they show no penitence, then I think there can be no doubt that, both for the sake of the possible good to their own souls, and for the good of the Church at large, they ought to be excommunicated, as we find laid down by St. Paul in i Cor. v. in treating of the case of the Corinthian.

With a view to carrying out the discipline of the Church in a missionary diocese like this, it would be well, if possible, to assign different seats in the churches to the baptized, the catechumens, and the hearers.

In conclusion, my Reverend Brethren, I would ask you to pray for me daily, that God the Holy Ghost may give me that wisdom which will alone enable me to discharge the great responsibilities of the office to which I have been called, and also that He will keep us united in brotherly love, so that we may continue to strengthen one another's hands in the great work which He has given us all to do.

May our Lord God, to whose loving care I commend you, prosper you in all your works undertaken for His glory and the salvation of the souls of the heathen to whom He has sent us.

I. That the offspring of mixed marriages should not be baptized until of age to answer for themselves, without sufficient guarantee that they be brought up as Christians.

2. In a marriage between a Christian man and heathen woman in which the man has deserted his wife, lapsed into heathenism, and lives in adultery, the woman shall be permitted, if under our influence, to marry again.

3. That a man at his admission to the catechumenate shall declare that he will not change his wife, or add to the number of his wives.

4. That a man who is married shall declare at his baptism that he will hold to his own wife and marry no other during her lifetime.

5. That heathen under our influence desiring to marry should make a declaration of mutual consent before a priest, if possible, and in the presence of witnesses.

6. That in the case of Christian couples, if a man desert his wife, or vice versd, the deserted partner shall not be permitted to marry again till the matter has been brought under the notice of the Bishop.

7. That banns of marriage should be published in all cases, a clause being inserted to guard against polygamy; and that all persons at their marriage should make a declaration that they have no wife or husband living, such declaration having been already made at the time of notice being given of the marriage.

8. That a polygamist seeking baptism shall not be urged to put away his wives unless full arrangement can be made for their honourable maintenance.

9. That a Christian who takes back his wives after his baptism be excommunicated by the lesser excommunication, and be put into the position of a hearer, unless special circumstances should determine the priest in charge to deal more severely with the case.

10. That this question and answer be inserted in the service for the admission of catechumens: 'If you are married, will you promise not to marry yet another woman? I promise.'

11. That it is undesirable at the present time for the Mission to receive any more adult freed slaves.

12. That all able-bodied freed slaves, who are not required for the work of the Mission, should be induced to seek work for themselves independently of the Mission.

13. That no released slave settlement be founded again on the mainland.

14. That in the opinion of this Synod it would not be contrary to their Christian principles for our converts at any station to defend themselves if attacked by an outside foe.

15. That a clause be inserted in the Litany to the following effect: 'That it may please Thee to bless Seyyid Bargash, Ruler of this country, and to turn his heart to the acknowledgment of Thy truth.'

16. That in dealing with up-country tribes where circumcision is a tribal custom independent of Mohammedanism, Christianity should not interfere with it, but that to an adult desiring to be circumcised as a concession to Mohammedan influences it should not be permitted.

17. That definite rules as to preaching, hours of work, &c., should be furnished to deacons and laymen in charge of stations, and that a monthly report of the work be rendered to their immediate superior. Also that a record of the work done in the district be kept at the central station.

18. That definite instructions as to Mohammedanism be given to all catechumens.

19. That in the opinion of this Synod a Theological College should be established as soon as possible for the training of promising native boys for the work of the ministry.

20. That it is not desirable to send boys to Europe, if some means can be found of training them in Africa.

21. That a Committee be formed to ascertain native customs with regard to apprenticeship and industrial work.

22. That it be lawful to use, after the Prayer for the Church at the celebration of Holy Communion, or with the Collects at the end of Morning and Evening Prayer, or before the Prayer of St. Chrysostom in the Litany, the prayer for the heathen, for catechumens, or for the perseverance of the baptized, to be found at the end of the Litany of Intercession which has been printed for the use of the diocese.

23. That this Synod, while offering its grateful thanks to those who have laboured at the work of translating the Bible, desires that it should be completed as speedily as possible, and authorises Archdeacon Hodgson to continue the work, in conjunction with other members of the Mission in England. The Synod also authorises Mr. Madan to proceed with his translations, and, with the approval of the Archdeacons, to arrange for their publication in England.

24. That this Synod especially desires to record its deep sense of the loss sustained, not only by the Mission but by the Church at large, in the death of the late Bishop of the Central African Mission, and of the deep debt of gratitude owed to him for applying his great and singular powers to the important work of systematising and reducing to grammatical order the Swahili language.

25. That, if a Synod be held next year, it is most desirable, where possible, that the agenda should be in the hands of members of the Mission two months before.

26. That translations of any part of the Bible into Swahili be printed in the first instance at the Mission press in Zanzibar.


Address delivered by the Bishop of Zanzibar to the Clergy and Members of the Mission at the Second Synod, 1893.


The Synod met on June 30 in Christ Church, Zanzibar, and sat for four days, viz.: June 30, July 1, July 3, and July 4.

On the first and third days the Synod met both morning and afternoon, on the other two days only in the morning.

On July i the Bishop held an informal conference with the priests of the Mission' in the afternoon, and also for the greater part of July 4, as the Synod concluded its deliberations early.

Each of the acts of the Synod was agreed to unanimously.

A dispensation from fasting is appended, because when the subject was discussed the Bishop, having said that the ordinary rules would not apply in this climate, was asked to issue a general dispensation.

My dear Brethren and Fellow-workers,--It is now just nine years since we all met in Synod before, and, with all humility for our own shortcomings, we thank God for all that He has done for us since then. It is a great thing that the work at Nyasa has so prospered, in the able hands of Archdeacon Maples and Mr. Johnson and our Brethren there, that we have felt justified in founding a Bishopric for Nyasaland, and that our friends in England should have enabled us to do so by their liberal contributions. I also feel it a great cause for thankfulness that Bishop Hornby's appointment should have been so welcomed by our brethren at Nyasa, and, with God's blessing, we may look forward, I hope, to a great extension of the work.

Then it must also be a great cause of thankfulness that the educational work which centres in Kiungani, and which touches the whole life of our Mission, should have so advanced and developed. Already it seems to me there are some whose whole life has been raised to so high a standard, and who have been taught to put before them so high an ideal of what a priest's life should be, that we have the highest promise for our work in the future. There has also, as we all know, been an immense increase in the number of children under our instruction, in the number of our books in the Swahili language, and I hope also in the standard of education at which we aim.

As to our general work I shall not be expected to particularise, but I feel sure that my brethren will not consider it as any want of appreciation of the work of others if I speak of the happiness we must all feel that such great progress has been made in the village which is under the care of a native priest. Where seven years ago the chief was the only Christian, we now find almost all the people either baptized or preparing for baptism, and to all appearance trying to live up to their Christian privileges. Lately they have built a large church, entirely by their own efforts and at their own expense. I cannot mention this work without saying that, throughout, the chief has earned the gratitude of the Church by showing himself in all things her faithful son by zealous co-operation and generous help.

As our work has developed we have largely increased our buildings to meet its needs. At Mbweni, through the kindness of one of our staff, we have added one of pur best houses for our industrial girls. The school buildings at Kiungani have been much added to, chiefly by means of special funds raised for the purpose, and we have lately, as you know, ventured on an undertaking which had been long talked of--a hospital for natives and a few Europeans here at Mkunazini. Though at first it may not be quite easy for all of us in time of sickness to accommodate ourselves to our new circumstances, I think there can be little doubt that the hospital will tell favourably on the health of our staff on the island. Already we have found the great benefit of it in this time of sickness, and our most grateful thanks are due to the devoted nurses, on whom the strain has fallen very heavily. It must be best, when we have fever or any serious illness, that we should be nursed where there is every appliance for the purpose, rather than in our own rooms, where we must go on living, often perhaps without change of air, and where, only too possibly, our sickness may act detrimentally on others.

But the building of the hospital necessitated a change in the arrangements of our Mission, which led me to consider whether we could not improve upon the past, and make some more direct effort to reach the Arab and Indian population of Zanzibar. I think I cannot explain better what change has resulted from this than by reading the letter I wrote to our Committee on the subject:

'Gentlemen,--You are aware that we have, with the help of our friends in England, built a small hospital near our Mission houses at Mkunazini, in the town of Zanzibar. We have a staff of three nurses and a matron attached to the hospital; and we have already found it of great use, not only to native patients, but also to members of our staff. I believe that to the health of our Mission staff in the island the advantages of having a hospital, with all necessary appliances, where they can be nursed in sickness instead of in our houses, will be found to be very great. But I find that if the nurses are to preserve their health they must have a separate house adjoining the hospital, and this necessity offers an opportunity for making a change in our Mission arrangements, which, I think, will be of great advantage to our work.

'Hitherto the ladies, clergy, and laymen have occupied the Mission house at Mkunazini and houses attached, all having a common table. This was no longer possible when a staff of nurses was added, and at present, at great inconvenience, they live in the hospital. Our work hitherto has been almost exclusively amongst freed slaves--children, industrial boys, and adults. Very little direct effort has been made to influence the large population of Arabs and Indians, and their coloured Mohammedan followers, of which the town of Zanzibar consists. A house of mixed character such as ours was very unsuitable as a centre for any such work. We need a clergy house, where clergy and laymen may live in community together, after the system of the Calcutta and Delhi Missions. Such a house as ours has been at Mkunazini, unusual among ourselves, would seem peculiarly unsuited to the ways and habits of thought of a Mohammedan population. Mr. Madan, who feels very strongly on the subject, has suggested to me that if a clergy house was established, in all probability men specially fitted for the work would volunteer, from the Universities and elsewhere at home, to give themselves specially to work in the town of Zanzibar.

'It has seemed to me, Gentlemen, that such a plan as this is likely to commend itself to you, particularly at this time when England has assumed such direct responsibilities towards the inhabitants of Zanzibar. I understand that those most acquainted with India, and most cognisant of Missionary work there, consider that a great work may be done amongst those Indians who settle for purposes of trade in towns such as those on the coast of East Africa--that in their case, the barriers of caste being broken down, they will be more likely to listen to Christian teaching, and may on their return to India be a powerful influence for good in their own country. Those who volunteered for work amongst Arabs and Indians could not of course look for any immediate results, but must be content to work on slowly, gaining a knowledge of their habits of thought and their religion, and so gradually winning a hearing for the Gospel. If something of this kind is not now done for the people of Zanzibar it will almost amount to a scandal, and it will surely be unworthy of the distinguished name that we bear as a Mission if we are obliged to confess that it is hopeless for us to make any direct attempt to convert the people of Zanzibar. Unless we do so, we ought surely to make it plain that we are unequal to the work, that others may occupy the ground. I venture to think that the Committee will agree with me that such a course would bring a disgrace upon us which would be likely to injure all our work.

'These considerations have led me to determine, hoping for your support and the support of our friends in England, to build a house on a site belonging to and adjoining the hospital, large enough not only for the nurses, but also for two Mission ladies to work amongst the women and children, and to contain rooms for other ladies, members of our Mission, who may be staying in the town in passing. Miss Mills has been obliged to go to England for her health, and she will appeal for help to build a house for herself and her boys at Mbweni. This will leave our house at Mkunazini free for the occupation of a staff of clergy and laymen, who will make it one of their first objects to do Mission work in the town of Zanzibar. Hitherto I have generally found that the clergy have been anxious to work upon the mainland--and, no doubt, the work there is less difficult, and promises more immediate results. But I hope, under our altered conditions at Mkunazini, University men may be found to offer themselves for this special work as they do for the Calcutta and Delhi Missions. Mr. Madan proposes while in England to appeal for such men, and I venture confidently to hope that we shall have, for this fresh effort to extend our work, that support and sympathy on the part of the Oxford and Cambridge Committees, as also of the Central Committee, which I have never yet found wanting.'

This will show what I hope we may be enabled to do. It will depend very much on whether we are able to enlist the Missionary enthusiasm of competent men at home on behalf of this, the great town of East Africa. I have very good hope that with God's blessing we may succeed. We are happily enabled just now to make a beginning with those members of our staff who are now in Zanzibar, the housekeeping being at present under the care of a lady, as is the case at Kiungani.

While thanking God for His mercies and taking courage from what He has done for us in the past, it is well for us to consider, at a time such as this, what is wanting, and how we may improve our methods and correct our deficiencies. This I suppose is one great object of our meeting together in Synod. It would not be profitable or lead to any good result to discuss, unless unavoidably by way of example or illustration, the particular action of Bishop or clergy, unless under exceptional circumstances, which I should hope would not arise amongst us. Generally I have noticed that such personal discussion, possibly sometimes necessary, has not been without scandal to the Church, deplored by those who seek her welfare. I think it will be found that where there is harmony in work the resolutions brought before a synod have rather to do with principles than with the line of action taken by particular persons.

One subject which we shall naturally, as missionaries, consider most anxiously, is whether we are using wisely, and to the utmost, the powers which God has given us for the conversion of the heathen and others outside the Church of our Lord to whom we are sent. And here I would ask my brethren to consider carefully, and with prayer to God for guidance, whether we sufficiently value preaching as a means of conversion, and whether we as a body preach with sufficient frequency and zeal. I would commend to your notice what the Bishop of Nassau says on the subject, at the beginning of his book on 'The Missionary's Foundation of Doctrine,' a book which would be profitable study for us all: 'A Missionary,' he says, 'can hardly preach too often if he has that to say which his neighbours, dying daily, need to hear before their race is run.' This is something very wholesome for us to hear and to remember. As he points out, we have mostly been brought up in a school which has had laid upon it the duty of recalling people's attention to the value of the Sacraments, the importance of corporate worship, and of showing and preserving due reverence in approaching God by care for the details of His service and sanctuary. The ordinance of preaching had seemed to be exalted as the one great means of grace, and it was natural that it should fall somewhat into the background when so many other things had to be restored to their proper place in the conversion and training of souls. But we shall lose very greatly in our power for good if we are led by this reaction to give less than its due weight to the very prominent place occupied by preaching in the New Testament. And we, as missionaries, above all others, are called to exercise a preaching ministry. With us, preaching must occupy, if we are to preserve the proportion of things, at least as prominent a place as any part of our work. I have sometimes thought that the supposed necessity of keeping up a round of offices, desirable and very necessary in itself, has been allowed to interfere with our very important work of preaching. Missionaries, by the nature of their work, are allowed a greater freedom from the obligation to observe stated rules and times than priests in charge of settled parishes, chiefly to set them free for this primary duty of preaching the Gospel. Yet I have sometimes thought that our people here, who need so much instruction, get less preaching than people in England, and certainly our preaching is much less frequent than I have heard of in the case of missionaries elsewhere. I do not wish to be thought to undervalue in any way the regular offices of the Church. I notice that as a rule where they are most frequented and valued the work is generally most satisfactory. But I think those of us who are engaged in directly missionary work should make all our arrangements of times and services with a view to their interfering as little as possible with the direct preaching of the Gospel. I am very sensible indeed of my own shortcomings in this matter of preaching. Had I shown an example of more enthusiasm and greater diligence, others would have been encouraged to pay more attention to that department of their work. A very great difficulty has been found in our mainland stations in getting the people to come to church for evensong on Sunday. Various hours in the late afternoon and evening have been tried, but with little success. The result is that they only spend a very small part of the day in worship, and, it is to be feared, do not keep it so as to gain that profit for their souls which God intended. It is hardly to be expected that people who cannot employ any time in reading will spend their Sundays profitably unless they can spend a fair proportion of them in worship and in being taught. It is comparatively easy when most of the people live near the church; but the difficulty arises when they live at some distance. If the catechumens come for the first part of the celebration of Holy Communion, as was the ancient custom, they cannot be expected to wait about while we have our breakfast for the service later in the morning, which is specially arranged probably for hearers; and yet there is most likely not time to go home and return. The Christians who come to the celebration of Holy Communion cannot either be expected to wait for the second service. Unless they come to evensong they get no other service at all, and hitherto we have failed to get them to come. But surely it is for the health of their souls that they should come twice to worship God on His own day. It is not too much to expect of Christian people. I would suggest to my brethren who find the difficulty whether we have not made a mistake in trying to introduce from modern England a time for evensong which is unsuited to this country. We cannot expect people to come in the dark or at a time when it will be getting dark when they return home. Even in England it is only, I suppose, well within this century that late evensong has been introduced at all. The ordinary hour everywhere was three o'clock or earlier. That is the time for vespers I believe throughout Western Europe--two, half-past two, or three o'clock, hardly ever later than four o'clock. Might it not be well to try the old English time of three o'clock, which would give all an opportunity to get back to their homes in time for the evening meal at sunset? We could then impress upon Christians and catechumens the duty of coming, which we cannot do now. I know it is a hot and uncomfortable time for us Europeans, but we live for our people, and the heat would be no difficulty to them.

From our circumstances and the nature of our climate it is unfortunately necessary that the priests in charge of stations should often be changed. This is to be lamented for the sake of the people, and it must be for their welfare that each change should carry with it as little change of service and ritual and methods as possible. I would therefore ask my brethren to inquire what has been the usage when any of them is appointed to the charge of a station, and not to make any changes without consulting me about them until they have been some time in charge. It must be an advantage to preserve continuity of practice and teaching, as long as it is not allowed to degenerate into stagnation. It would generally, I think, be for good and according to Catholic precedent if the Bishop was consulted before any marked change was made at all. But when a priest has been in charge of a station for a considerable time, and the people have learnt to look up to him, changes which are the natural result of his own work and individuality do not affect them as changes, but come in the ordinary course as what they might expect, and are welcomed as a further effort on his part for their good.

I have thought it well, in consultation with the Bishop of Nyasaland, to make a few alterations in the Mission paper signed by each person who joins our staff. We have inserted an appeal for men to work amongst the Arabs and Indians, and a clause to make clear our view as to the obligations those joining us in the future would undertake as regards marriage. We have omitted the allusion to stimulants, and we thought the time had come when we might leave out the clause explaining our system of common life now long established amongst us.

I take this opportunity of impressing upon my brethren again the duty of making it their first work to learn the language of the people to whom they are called to minister. I think there is sometimes a disposition to think that such knowledge will come without making it a matter of regular application and definite work, but this can only be expected in the case of a few who may be specially gifted. I hope those of my brethren who are competent to do so will feel it a duty to help those who have newly come, or, still better, as most of them I know have plenty of work of their own to do, that they will, if possible, help them to find a
native from whom they may acquire a knowledge of the language. I think in the case of Swahili this might be more largely done: the Mission will always bear any expense of such instruction, and it would, I hope, be for the advantage of the teacher as well as for ourselves.

In preparing catechumens for baptism, I hope one of the first things they are taught will be a private prayer suited to their state, to be said morning and evening. As our Lord dwells so strongly on the duty of prayer, on its being so pleasing to God and winning such blessings from Him, it would be well to teach even our hearers a short private prayer if possible. As soon as we begin to believe in our Father in Heaven it must be right to ask His help. In the case of Christians we cannot be too careful 'in this matter of private prayer. I am sure it will not do for us to presume that having been instructed about prayer they will themselves be able to put in practice what they have been taught. If we feel it most important that they should pray regularly, then we must ensure that they do so, by teaching them prayers to say by heart, such as acts of contrition, faith, hope, and love.

I think we have generally agreed that it is not well to give our converts any article of dress at their baptism. It would be well if at each station a special dress were provided, worked with a cross to mark its purpose, which should be used at baptism, confirmation, and first communion.

When possible it is good that those who have been confirmed should make their first communion together on a particular day, and the occasion should be marked as one of great importance in the life of the Christian community, as in the case of baptism and confirmation.

I must ask my Brethren very earnestly that the principle be accepted, which I think will be found universally in accordance with the usage of the Church Catholic, that all questions of dissolution of marriage, or union of persons who have contracted a former marriage not dissolved by death, should be deferred till they can be settled in consultation with the Bishop. Many of them present great difficulties, and the deferring the settlement of them, even for some time, will generally be a gain, if only to exhibit a certain self-restraint in the action of the Church in such a matter.

I could wish that, throughout the Mission, we were accustomed to use the same minor offices--as sext and compline, where they are said. Though the books used in England vary in minor details, I think it will be found that the psalms which form the bulk of the offices are those which have been generally said for many centuries throughout the Western Church. It may be a small link of unity, but every link is of value which unites us with our brethren in their worship.

Now that our numbers are increased, and as we ask for the help of men and women trained in various occupations, the question of the length of. our stay in England after a period of work here requires some attention. The first condition to be fulfilled is that health, both of mind and body, should be thoroughly recruited, or at least so far as is possible after the wear and tear of life here. That condition being always supposed, we must consider what time we may rightly take, purely as a holiday for rest and refreshment, should there be no necessity on the score of health, which is unfortunately unlikely, or should we be entirely recruited by the voyage home. It is usual for an English clergyman to take four Sundays or the inside of five weeks in the year, when it is possible, in parishes where the work is exacting. As missionaries we should hardly think it right to claim more. This would mean about three months in England, not counting, o course, the voyage either way, after three years of work here, and I should suppose for those who feel quite well and had no work to do in England, that would be found to be enough. Very few, I think, of those who are accustomed to and like work, would find it either profitable or pleasant to be entirely without work for a longer period. To those who had not many resources I could even imagine it might do permanent harm. If sickness is the cause, the case is different, because to suffer in God's cause may be as profitable to the soul as to work. But many of us find there is a great deal of work for us to do for the Mission in England, and work which often can only be done by us. We may therefore feel it is right to stay much longer in England, but it will be, not to extend our holiday--though we must remember it does in a certain way do that--but to give our work for the Church there instead of here. And even so we need to be on our guard lest, because the work at home is pleasant or comes to us more easily, we unduly extend our time there--not, for instance, to suppose we must be a full year away, whatever may be our circumstances or the needs of our work. We are first of all called to be missionaries to the heathen and those outside the Church who do not yet know the love of God, and no work can fully take the place of that. Lest what I have said should raise any scruples in the mind of anyone which might lead to their hurrying back too soon, as has been the case, I would add that it seems to me that the decision of the Bishop, or of course a medical man, that it is not right to return yet, would be sufficient to settle the line of duty.

The subject of precautions as to health will come before us during the Synod, so that I will only say here that the tone of mind is very much to be deprecated which would lead men when they first come out to work here to disregard, to use no stronger term, the experience and warnings of those who know what this climate is, as to the precautions they ought to take. So far from this being a kind of heroism it will appear to be really selfishness, if we consider the amount of trouble to others in the way of nursing and over-work from loss of help, which such recklessness causes. Here on the Island of Zanzibar it generally takes the form of neglect of precautions against the effects of the sun; on the mainland, of taking ong journeys in the day with very little rest, as if the great object were to get from one place to another in the shortest possible time, without any regard to heat or fatigue, and without any apparent reason. I speak as one not altogether guiltless myself in my earlier years here, but experience has led me to believe that the matter is really a serious one; that health has been impaired, and possibly valuable lives sacrificed from these causes.

I am sorry that it should have happened that we have come together at a time of unusual sickness and sadness. After a long period of exceptionally good health we have had to lament, in the death of Miss Eleanor Bennett, the loss of one who for many years had devoted herself wholly to the care of our girls. This and the epidemic of fever, which has thrown a cloud over us, will rather, I fear, take away from the refreshment which I hoped we should all experience from meeting together here. It may be the way God has chosen to give a chastened and disciplined character to our deliberations.

May He, to whose loving care I commend you, be present with us to grant us harmony and brotherly love, and to direct all our consultations to His honour and glory, and the praise of His Church.


1. That this Synod desires to express its thanks to Mr. Madan and the Rev. F. R. Hodgson for their arduous labours, which have happily resulted in a revised translation of the Old and New Testaments.

2. That a Committee be formed to consider the revised translations of the Swahili New Testament, consisting of the Archdeacon of Zanzibar, the Rev. H. W. Woodward, Cecil Majaliwa and Petro Limo, with the Bishop as chairman, with power to add to their numbers; to sit day by day and to report upon the translation; the result of their labours to be printed at Kiungani, and circulated according to the 26th Resolution of the Synod of 1884.

3. That in all books or translations issued by the Universities' Mission in native languages, while our own positive beliefs are stated and taught, the object shall be kept in view of so putting them as not to reflect on the beliefs of other Christians who hold the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds, so that our books may be read by them without offence.

4. That this Synod authorises the Rev. H. W. Woodward and Mr. King to revise the existing Swahili Hymn Book, with the following instructions:

(a) To make additions, particularly of Office Hymns, and to omit any hymns objectionable for doctrinal or linguistic reasons.

(b) To select hymns for translation or retranslation by competent persons.

(f) To submit before Michaelmas tentative copies to the various stations for suggestions, such suggestions to be referred to the Bishop.

5. (a) That in the instructions to Hearers, on p. 26 of the Mambo ya chuoni, in the place of § B the tract of the Bishop of Zululand, except so far as it is covered by § A, be inserted in the form already in use.

(b) That this Synod commissions the Archdeacon of Zanzibar, Mr. Woodward, and Mr. Chambers to form a committee, with power to add to their numbers, to revise Chapter V. of the Mambo ya chuoni with a view to making it more efficient for the instruction of our converts.

6. That this Synod, having regard to the great danger to health caused by want of care in this climate, strongly recommends the following precautions to the members of the Mission.

(1) That no one, till after at least a year's experience, should go out between the hours of g A.M. and 4 P.M. in a black coat or without a sun helmet or pith hat, and that probably in most cases it will take much longer to know what it may be possible for each one to do without danger.

(2) That no one, at least till he has had this experience, should play football in the afternoon before 5 P.M.

(3) That no one should intentionally, without real necessity, go out in the wet or remain in wet clothes, and that travelling in wet weather should be avoided if possible.

(4) That care should be taken not to linger near swampy ground at or after sunset.

(5) That it is generally unadvisable to wear linen or cotton next the skin.

(6) That, where possible, care should be taken that filtered and boiled water only be used for drinking, except where it is of guaranteed purity. That filters in use be periodically cleaned and re-charged.

7. That it is most desirable that we should impress as far as possible, on all Africans ministered to in spiritual things by African teachers, that it is their duty to furnish their teachers with temporal things, and that we should therefore, in bringing up all our African teachers, strenuously discourage all Europeanisms and luxuries which the Africans they will minister to will be quite unable to supply them with.

8. That this Synod desires to encourage natives in every way to purchase, however cheaply, our Swahili Bibles and New Testaments.

9. That wages should not be fixed for any native teacher without consultation, and reference to the general principles on which the Mission gives its salaries.


I, CHARLES ALAN, by the grace of God Bishop of Zanzibar, do hereby dispense from fasting and abstinence all European members of the Universities' Mission who live and work within my jurisdiction. But by this dispensation I do not mean to discourage the observing of days of fasting and abstinence by a rule of self-denial, but only to relieve the consciences of those whose health might suffer if they felt they were under an obligation to fast in this climate.

June 3, 1893. Bishop of Zanzibar.


Letter to Père Acker

The following letter was written to Père Acker, of the Society of the Holy Ghost in Zanzibar, in order to explain the attitude of the English Church towards questions connected with marriage, and towards other Churches.

Magila: Dec. 18, 1888.

My dear Père Acker,--. . . The Synod at Lambeth decided: 1. That as our Lord's words expressly forbid divorce, except in the case of fornication or adultery, the Church cannot recognise divorce in any other than the accepted case, or give any sanction to the marriage of any person who has been divorced contrary to this law, during the life of the other party.

2. That under no circumstances ought the guilty party in the case of a divorce for fornication or adultery to be regarded during the lifetime of the innocent party as a fit recipient of the blessing of the Church on marriage.

3. That, recognising the fact that there has always been a difference of opinion in the Church on the question whether but Lord meant to forbid marriage to the innocent party in a divorce for adultery, the clergy should not be instructed to refuse the Sacraments to those who, under civil sanction, are thus married.

I may remark on this that some of the most religious-minded people in England probably think that this last ruling of the Synod is not strict enough.

I may add that the permission lately given in Italy to the King's brother to marry his niece has been a great shock to us. We cannot understand how in any part of the Church such a marriage could be allowed; with us it would be universally regarded as incestuous.

On the question of polygamy, the Synod ruled that persons living in polygamy be not admitted to baptism, but they may be accepted as candidates, and kept under Christian instruction until such time as they shall be in a position to accept the law of Christ.

I am afraid I have nothing to report which would be considered satisfactory to one who did not know the Church of the Anglican obedience from within as to the attitude of the Synod towards the Roman Catholic Church. I think myself that I can see a great advance in the absence of bitterness and misrepresentation, and I rejoice at it; but the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church towards us makes it exceedingly difficult for a body of Anglican bishops to be generous on their part. The members of each body are kept very much apart by circumstances, and know very little of the proofs of the grace of God and the religious life working in the other; but we who belong to the Anglican communion do see wonderful proofs of the grace of the Sacraments amongst our own people, and we do see amongst those who believe in the Sacraments a high type of holy life being formed in them. This cannot be explained by the fact that the grace of God works in all who sincerely love Him, because if it were only that, and if the Sacraments of our communion are mere shams, those who believe least in them would show the most proof of grace. God cannot help the souls of people by their believing in a lie. But we do see continually amongst ourselves that those who use the Sacraments with most devotion are enabled to live the most holy and self-sacrificing lives.

The Roman Catholic Church has always persistently refused to recognise this, or even to inquire into it; it condemns us as a dead branch of the Church of Christ without any true Orders and without any sacramental life, and will accept no advances on our part unless we allow first that her judgment upon us is just. I hold that, however ungenerous the Roman Catholic Church is to us, and whatever harsh judgments she may pass upon us, it is our duty not to retaliate, but to rejoice in all the good that God is doing in the world by means of her; and if there are forms of devotion and statements of doctrine which seem to us to savour of novelty, I think we ought to remember that it is very difficult for the people of one nation to enter into the religious sentiments of those of another, and so to refrain from condemning what we may have little opportunity to understand.

It is hardly possible to expect a large body of bishops, representing such a multitude of Christian people, to be actuated by such feelings in the face of unabated hostility and condemnation. I am most thankful to God that there has been so little retaliation on our part as a body, and I did my utmost to prevent anything that might seem like it. But a great longing for unity amongst all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity has sprung up amongst our people; and I cannot be surprised that, as all advances towards the Roman Catholic Church would be at once refused, except on condition of absolute submission, the Anglican Communion should be turning to other bodies similarly situated, such as the Church in the East, and should be trying to find in them a bond of union.

As you know, my dear Père Acker, I do not like controversy, and I very much dislike seeming to blame or pass judgment upon those whom I consider my fellow Catholics.

The rôle of Protestant is one that I can never play. But in loyalty to that part of the Church in which God has called me to be a Bishop, I have felt it right to say so much in answer to your letters. . . .

Thanking you again very sincerely, my dear Père Acker, for your kind letter,

I remain,
Yours most sincerely in our Lord,

Bishop of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa.


Extract from Pastoral Letter: Lent, 1894.

At our Synod last year we considered the subject of fasting, and there seemed to be a desire that there should be some greater uniformity in our practice and teaching than there has been hitherto.

I have often feared that, from our own inability to fast much in this climate, we English clergy have been inclined to shrink from teaching our people plainly the duty of fasting, to their great spiritual loss.

We know how it is taken for granted throughout the Bible that it is an important part of all true religion, how that in the Church it has always been wielded as a powerful weapon against our spiritual foes, and how largely it has contributed to perfect the lives of the saints. We cannot wonder that our people fall easily under temptation, if we have hesitated to teach them how largely our religion is a religion of self-denial for Christ's sake.

A priest who is a native of this country, who has naturally taught plainly and practically on the subject, has found the Christians under his care very ready to follow his guidance. I understand that the practice of abstinence on Fridays is so well understood amongst them that, even when out hunting, Christian men will not eat meat on Friday, in commemoration of the death of our Lord.

To those who come into contact with the coast, the fast of Ramadhan has made fasting familiar, and it will probably lead to more reality, if the clergy, in directing their people, take into consideration the customs of fasting we already find here, rather than follow exactly the use of the Western Church. In this country it is, generally speaking, no fast at all to remain without food till mid-day; it is what large numbers of people habitually do. Their idea of fasting is to remain without food from sunrise to sunset.

For the guidance, therefore, and support of my brother clergy, I direct that our Christian people during Lent should eat but one full meal, in the evening, on all fasting days, with permission to make a slight meal immediately after service in the morning, or immediately on rising, if they are prevented from going to church.

Also that on all fasting days they should abstain from meat food and all intoxicating drinks such as tembo or pombe.

When this rule of fasting in Lent has been tried, the people have found no difficulty in keeping the fast in this way, and have readily done so, I have no doubt, with great blessing from God on their self-denial. Christian people should also be directed to give alms of what they save in food during Lent.

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