In a previous Number we referred to the severe affliction with which our native brother, the Rev. Henry Budd, has been visited; and how, at his lonely station on the Saskatchewan, he has been bereaved of his son, the Rev. H. Budd, jun.; not only his son, but his devoted fellow-labourer in the Gospel of Christ; of his wife, and a young daughter, fourteen years of age, all within the brief space of a few weeks.
How mysteriously the Lord acts in his dispensing of affliction! how heavily they come at times, and there, too, where we might have thought that they would not have been permitted to fall! This native-Christian family, placed at the lonely out-post of the Nepowewin, far away in the wilderness, that they might, by the blessing of God, gather in some of the wild wanderers, we should have thought its integrity would have been necessary to its usefulness, and that it would have been left intact. The Lord knows best, and He has decided otherwise, and our brother is now left with a little boy of nine years of age as his sole companion. How desolate the Mission house must seem: they whose love made it bright and warm, even on the coldest winter-day, when the snow fell thickly, and all around was cold and grey--all gone!
We were much struck by a remark which occurred in a letter received from one of [30/31] our Missionaries, who, having recently left England, had made his way rapidly from New York to Minnesota, and thence by Pembina to the Red-River Settlement, and who, on his way to the distant Mackenzie district--as a welcome help to our brethren Kirkby and Macdonald, contending there with a host of Romish priests, all striving to delude the poor Indians, and proselyte them to Mariolatry--from beyond Lake Winnipeg wrote to us this letter. The vast extent of country, and the sparseness of the population, astonished him. The transition must indeed have been great from London and its crowded thoroughfares, where so vast a population is concentrated within so small a space, to these distant tracts, where a man may travel for days and not meet either friend or foe. But a spiritual man has a special advantage at such a time, and so he found it to be; and the remark he makes is to this effect, that "the Lord's presence, and the consciousness of his favour more than compensates for any dreariness of outward circumstances in which a man may find himself placed."
So our brother Henry Budd finds it to be. He has written home the following letter, and tells us how graciously he is upheld. He sorrows, but not as one without hope. He feels deeply, but comforts himself with the blessed assurance that his loves ones are with the Lord, safe sheltered from every ill; he cheers himself with the hope that at no distant period he shall also be permitted to go home.
Let this letter not fail to elicit on his behalf much sympathy and many prayers.
"June 27, 1865--I wrote you a short letter in January last, in the midst of tears, of much weakness in body, and depression of spirit. I then endeavoured to give you some information regarding the heavy bereavements which weighed me down. It fell to my lot to inform you of the melancholy intelligence of the loss by death of my dear son Henry, of my own beloved wife, and of my dear and tender daughter, all taken from me in the short space of six weeks.
"What I have suffered since then, both mentally and bodily, I need not try to describe, for I am not able. But I have reason to bless God for a measure of grace which has supported me, and enabled me to yield to the dispensation, and bow to the sovereign will of God in humble meekness.
"My principal object in writing you these lines is, to thank the Society, through you, for the exceeding great kindness they have always shown to my now sainted son, since he was connected with them. Ask them, please, to accept the assurance of my heartfelt gratitude to them for this; not to say any thing of the many, very many, favours shown to myself. One source of comfort to my mind now that my dear boy is no longer an inhabitant of this world, is from the thought that, wherever he went, though a perfect stranger in your country, he always found plenty of friends; and now that he is no more, many will regret it. But the greatest source of comfort to me is from the hope that death to him was gain. I bless God for the hope that he has only exchanged this world of sin and misery for one of peaceful happiness and bliss. This hope supports me much--the hope that those dear ones are not lost, but only gone before me, it may be, for a little while; and that in a little I may be called upon to follow them, and meet them once more, not as here, liable to be separated, but where separation is unknown.
"I would think of them, not as they were, poorly, sickly, dying; but I would think of them as glorified spirits in the midst of those joys which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard. No more sleepless, weary nights--no aching head--all their redeemed souls pure, and tranquil, and serene as the light in which they dwell. May the Lord, by his grace, ever enable me to look intently forward beyond the few short years which must intervene, to that bright day--that day of exceeding joy, when those who have loved each other so tenderly upon earth shall surely be re-united to part no more for ever. I thank God for it all, for I am persuaded that in tender love He has afflicted me. Yes, indeed, nothing but love would induce Him to do so. He saw there was too much clinging to those objects, however dear, which He had mercifully lent me only for a time. I trust I will have to bless the name of God throughout an endless eternity, that by any means, however painful, He has at length, I humbly trust, weaned my affections from the earth and earthly things, and enabled me to turn away from all things earthly here, yea, even from those held most dear, and to seek in Him and his everlasting love my heaven, my all. Henceforward I do most earnestly desire to know no [31/32] will but God's, and lie mute in his hands. This is my desire; but, oh! my daily shortcomings are a grief to me, again and again, and I can only abhor myself, and take refuge at the foot of the cross.
"My few remaining children are a source of much anxiety. I am compelled to send three of them to the Red-River Settlement, where I trust they will be better attended to than they can be here with me. It will give me pain to part with them, as they have been of much comfort to me all the last winter; but it is necessary they should go, and I dare not keep them. I shall then be left with only a little boy, nine years old; he is to be my companion."
In the meanwhile the work goes on. Our dear brother does not wrap himself up in his grief, and shrink as much as possible into retirement, that he may brood over his bereavement. This is not the effect which sorrow should have on a Christian. It weans his affections from earth, but sends his forth with increased earnestness to his Lord's work. And such fidelity brings its reward, even now, for the Lord's work cheers and lightens the load of sorrow in the heart.
"Since writing in January, I have gone on, through much bodily and mental weakness, endeavouring the further the interests of the Mission under my special care; but I have felt much the want of such valuable assistance as my deceased son used to render me."
Thus the Sunday services have been sustained with the usual regularity all through the winter; but the school has suffered considerably, there being no one to attend without interruption to this department. Mr. Budd has given to it what time he could spare, but when he is away it is of necessity shut up.
Occasional absences on his part are necessary. There are out-stations to be visited, for instance the one at Carlton House.
Concerning this place, Mr. Budd is enabled to speak in an encouraging manner.
"There is an evident sign that the Lord condescends to bless our weak and humble efforts for the spiritual welfare of the people. After my visit in January, chief trader Prudeis, the gentleman in charge of Carlton, in his communication to me, writes--"I am happy to state that an evident change has taken place in the minds of some of the men of the Fort, especially those of European origin, since your last visit to us. One or two of them particular were so touched by your last sermon, that they have resolved to turn over a new leaf, and, by the grace of God, they have become quite other men. They have, since your departure, kept up regular prayers, morning and evening, on Sundays as well as on the week-days; and they have considerable influence on the rest of the men. They desire to send their respects and kind regards, and wish you may be able to come and see them again soon."
"This is the information of the trader at Carlton, and, coming as it does from a disinterested person, was the more valuable. I saw these people again the last month, and I was so cheered to witness the change which had taken place. I spent a week with them, and endeavoured, to the best of my power, to exhort them to follow the Lord with full purpose of heart, and keep up their prayers steadily, and ask daily for the grace of God to enable them to go on in their Christian course. It did my heart good to hear them converse freely on the state of their minds, and while they related to me what the Lord had done for their souls."
At this place Mr. Budd is very anxious that a Missionary should be placed.
At the central station we are glad to find that the work of conversion is also going on. Mr. Budd says--
"We have had some baptisms in the course of the winter, one family of Indians coming in after another. Those who have been baptized have gone on well, and give general satisfaction. I trust they are growing in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"Our Mission chapel is in the course of erection, and is far on towards completion, so that, if all keep well, we hope to have it opened next summer. We have had no help from any quarter towards this chapel, but just some help from the yearly grant of the Mission, and from the Mission gifts from our Christian friends in England."