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John Horden: Missionary Bishop
A Life on the Shores of Hudson's Bay

By the Rev. A. R. Buckland, M.A.

London: The Sunday School Union, no date.

Chapter VII. A New Responsibility

Horden Consecrated Bishop of Moosonee--A Great Diocese, Few People--At Work once more--A Day's Tasks--An Interrupted Service, and Scolding Mothers--An Ordination Sermon.

HORDEN was called to England that he might be made a bishop. The country round Hudson's Bay had formed a part of the immense 1iocese of Rupert's Land, but, with the advance of missionary work and the increase of the white population, it had been resolved to divide it. An irregular slice of territory surrounding Hudson's Bay became the new diocese of Moosonee, and was placed under Horden's care. No better choice could have been made. He was in the prime of life, and bad seen twenty-one years of service in the field. He had shown qualities which are rarely found together in one man.

He was consecrated at Westminster Abbey on December 15, 1872; one of the prelates who laid their hands on him being that very Bishop Anderson who, just twenty years before, had ordained him at Moose.

The new diocese had this peculiarity, that on one side it had no boundary. Towards the north it extends as far as you please; towards the south it is now bordered by the Canadian Pacific Railway; eastward and westward it runs up by the shores of the great bay. The inhabitants perhaps numbered 10,000; a few Europeans, some half-breeds, with Crees, Ojibbeways, Chippewyans, and Eskimo. There was no rich person in the diocese, and the Indians in particular had many hardships to face. But the population was so scattered that, when Horden was summoned home this time, he had, as he put it, just returned from "a five months' walk" in his own "parish."

Bishop Horden left England in May, and went home overland--that is to say, he again approached Moose from the south. It was another case of hard work, hard fare, and hard dealings from the mosquitoes, which had no more reverence for a bishop than for a curate.

Of course there were rejoicings at the return of the bishop, but Horden himself settled down at once to everyday work. He had his plans for the diocese, dividing it into districts, in the hope of placing a clergyman in each.. Into the work of translation he threw himself with new zest, using upon this the long days when the rivers were in the grip of the ice, and little travelling could be done. Thus, in writing on May 5th, 1874, the date of the great Church Missionary Society meeting of the year, in the Exeter Hall, he gives us a glimpse of one such quiet day at Moose:--

"Outside it is very gloomy; it is still very cold; the snow is very deep on the ground; the ice in the river is nearly as strong as it was in the middle of winter, and we do not anticipate a break-up for a fortnight, and when the break-up comes we fear a flood.

"And, now, how shall I spend the day? Principally on my translations, which, I thank God, are progressing very favourably. I am now engaged on the Psalms, which are to form the commencement of the book I have in hand. See me, then, as I shall be half an hour hence, pen and ink and manuscript book before me, Scott's Commentary opened at the ninetieth Psalm, with Mason's Bible, Cree Dictionary, Prayer-book, Cruden's Concordance, arrayed around me, and I shall be deep in the beauties of that solemn Psalm. At nine I take Bertie and Beatrice for an hour, and then return to my translations until dinner time. Afterwards I shall go out to see some of my people, notably a very aged woman, grandmother of our schoolmaster; she has lived over a century."

But with these cares in his mind he always had an eye for the ordinary life of the settlement. He could help with the rest in preparing for the winter; in seeing that a potato crop was got in; that a stock of fish was caught, and salted or frozen; that pigs and cattle were killed and frozen; that great stores of firewood were brought in. For those who were healthy there were amusements too. The bishop's boys--like any other boys--enjoyed wielding an axe, and were never better pleased than when out in the woods. Then they could taste the keen joy of rushing through the crisp air on a toboggan, which even those who have only known the sport as it is practised in winter in Switzerland will envy them. There was fishing too; cold work with the temperature "a little below zero," so that the trout froze hard soon after they left the water. But the bishop knew the secret of contentment, and writes down his own view in these words--

"The happiest man is he who is most diligently employed about his Master's business."

Perhaps Horden's new dignity added weight to his words. At all events, it was soon after his return as a bishop that a curious interruption stopped for a moment one of his services. He had been up the bay, when, during the journey, he saw a body of Indians in the distance. As usual, he at once arranged a service for them. A good many young people were present, to whom the bishop spoke.

Suddenly there was a stir amongst the hearers, and cries were raised.

He stopped for a moment in astonishment; but then their voices told him the cause of the tumult. The mothers were making the most of his advice.

"Do you hear?" they cried to their daughters; "isn't this what we are always telling you?"

Then the daughters were hauled to the front, whilst their mothers shouted: "Come here, that he may see you; let him see how ashamed you look, you disobedient children."

This interlude over, the sermon went on to a happy end.

Bishop Horden had for years been training some natives, with a view to the ministry, and two were speedily ordained by him. His own summary of his first ordination sermon will interest those who care to know the spirit in which Horden worked, and the spirit he desired for his helpers. The text was Heb. xii. 2, and the summary runs thus--

"1. Look unto Jesus, to learn in what spirit your work should be performed.

"2. Look at Jesus, and see in Him how a minister of God should pray.

"3. Look unto Jesus, and learn from Him how to improve opportunities which arise in the course of your ministry. When paddling with an Indian, over one of the lakes, teach him to look to Jesus, who walked on the waves of the Lake of Gennesaret. In the lonely bivouac, speak to him of Jesus who had not where to lay His head. In the squalid tent, of Him who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor.

"4. Look unto Jesus, and learn from Him how best to convey instruction.

"5. Look unto Jesus in His holiness, and fashion your life in the same faultless mould.

"6. Look unto Jesus, for the fulfilment of His promises.

"7. Teach those to whom you are sent to look unto Jesus."

The bishop's words were, his hearers knew, but the reflection of his own life.

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