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It is very interesting to read the early history of Protestant missions all over the world, and of the first efforts of those great Missionary Societies which can now count their missionaries and mission-stations by hundreds. The first station occupied by the missionaries sent out by the Church of England Missionary Society was Free Town, Sierra Leone, in Africa. This was in the year 1804fifty-three years ago. Many a good man has gone forth to preach the gospel to poor Africa since that time, and many of her sable children have been turned from darkness unto light.
A missionary who went to Sierra Leone more recently, gives the following account of his arrival, and of the results of missionary labour there :
FREE TOWN, SIERRA LEONE.
“ Just as we had reached the summit of the last mountain, between Free Town and Regent's Town, the latter place presented itself to our view. As I walked down the mountain, pleased with the enehanted scene, I was in an instant 'lost in wonder, love, and praise.' Music of the sweetest kind, and possessing charms which I had never before experienced, burst upon my ear.
It was moonlight, and all the houses being lighted up, I inquired of
Mr. Johnson from whence this sound proceeded. He pointed to the church, which is situate at the side of a mountain, then opposite to us, on the other side of a brook that runs between the mountains and the principal part of the town, over which Mr. Johnson had caused the people to erect a strong handsome stone bridge. The church is a fine stone building. It was now lighted up, and the people were assembled for evening prayer.
FREE TOWN, SIERRA LEONE.
66 The chain of mountains that surrounds the town resounded with the echo of the praises of the Saviour.
“ I hastened with all possible speed down one mountain and up the other to'enter the church, where I found upwards of 500 black faces prostrate at the throne of grace. I entered with Mr. Johnson, and soon after Mrs. Jesty arrived. After the service was over, above 200 of the congregation surrounded us. They came in such crowds to shake hands with us, that we were obliged to give both hands at once. So rejoiced were they to see more labourers from white man's country,' that after we left the church and had entered Mr. Johnson's house, many who, from the pressure in the church, were not able to speak and shake hands with us, entered the parlour, and would not leave until they had manifested their love to us by their affectionate looks and humble salutations."
The first Protestant missionaries to India were sent out by Frederick the Fourth, King of Denmark, in 1705. The names of the missionaries were Bartholomew Ziegenbalg and Henry Platcho. Their first object was to learn the native language. The Lord blessed their labours to such an extent, that in less than two years they baptized five natives—the first-fruits of a glorious harvest. A church was built ; schools were established ; a printingpress wąs set up, and many books were printed and circulated among the natives. The Christian religion became the subject of general inquiry. Ziegenbalg came to Europe to get help for his mission. The King of Denmark was very kind to him, and gave him many presents. In England, King George I. honoured him with an interview, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and others, promised him help. Some time after his return to India, among other letters of encouragement which he received
from Europe was one from the King of England. It was as follows: “ George by the grace of God, King of Great Britain,
to the reverend and learned Bartholomew Ziegenbalg and John E. Grundler, Missionaries at Tranquebar.
“ Reverend and beloved,- Your letter, dated January 20th, of this present year, was most welcome to us; not only because the work undertaken by you of converting the heathen to the Christian faith, doth, by the grace of God, prosper ; but, also, because that, in this our kingdom, such a laudable zeal for the promotion of the Gospel prevails. We pray that you may be endued with health and strength of body, that you may long continue to fulfil your ministry with good success; of which, as we shall be rejoiced to hear, so you will always find us ready to succour you, in whatever may tend to promote your work, and excite your zeal. We assure you of the continuance of our royal favour.-GEORGE R.
“ Given at our Palace of Hampton Court, Aug. 23rd, A.D. 1717, in the fourth year of our reign.”
In a small lowly dwelling in the good town of Plymouth, nearly forty years ago, sat an aged woman engaged in darning a stocking. That she was not rich could be seen from her appearance; that she was ignorant might be judged from the coarse untidy scrawl in her window, which announced that she sold " milk and cream."
A poor boy, who happened to be passing with a book in his hand, stopped and earnestly fixed his eyes on this label, glanced in at the open door, and then, as if encouraged by
the gentle face of her who sat plying her needle, he ventured into the house.
“What do you want? " said the old woman to the stran. ger; but the boy answered not a word. Alas! the sounds of nature, the singing of birds, the tones of music, the voice of kindness, were to him for ever silenced. A fearful accident had quite deprived him of his hearing, and dreary stillness was around him till his death. But his eyes seemed to read that to which his ears could not listen; he now looked anxiously into the old woman's face, and opening the book which he carried, drew out of it a paper upon which “milk and cream appeared, neatly drawn in coloured letters. He pointed to the window, and speaking with difficulty in a strange and hollow voice, said to the woman, " This for a penny."
She replied, but he knew not what she said; he thought that she considered his little charge too much; “A halfpenny, then,” the poor child said ; and distressed at seeing that her lips still moved, he put his fingers to his poor deaf ears, to show her the affliction which it had pleased God to send him. A kindly pitying look came over the face of the good old woman ; she drew a penny from the till, and beckoning him to wait till she came back, left the room, and presently returned with a nice cup of milk and a piece of cake, on which the deaf boy made a delicious repast.
May we not believe that this little act of kindness was not forgotten by Him who has promised that he who gives even a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, shall in no wise lose his reward ?
But how little did the good woman dream that the poor deaf boy who was trying to earn a few pence by the sale of his little slips of paper, was one who, in after life, should earn for himself a distinguished and honourable name !