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Men are recognised in this command, not as of a particular nation or color; but as the moral and intelligent creatures of God. “God hath made of one blood all the nations of men.” It is necessary that the word of God be spoken to the Africans; and seeing they have not put it from them, nor judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life, we cannot, we dare not, neglect them and turn to others.
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
The negroes are our neighbors, for they are men, members of the same great family; and most emphatically such, since they form a part of our households, dwell upon our grounds, and spend their days in our service. If they are not our neighbors, whom we are bound to love as ourselves, we have no neighbors at all.
“All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”
This rule of action, does not recklessly break down just distinctions in society. It is therefore, to be obeyed intelligently, with due regard to persons and circumstances.Whatever change an intelligent and perfect obedience to 'this rule, would make in the condition of servants, every man is at liberty to judge for himself. But one thing would certainly result from such'obedience—servants would receive the Gospel at our hands.Were we in the condition of the negro, and he in our own; able to read and appreciate the Gospel, and to impart it to us, would we not think it his duty to do it? Yes, that Gospel which is consolation to the poor and the afflicted, and life eternal to those who are dead in trespasses and sins; would we not deem him deficient both in humanity and religion, if he either neglected or would not do it?“Whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” With more tremendous emphasis let it be asked, "Whoso hath the word of eternal life, and seeth his brother have need and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” Let this question be an. swered to that God, who, without respect of persons, judgeth according to every man's work!
But the Word of God contains express commands to us as masters.
To pass by the Old Testament, we have in the New, “And ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening, knowing that your master also is in Heaven: neither is there respect to persons with him.” And again, “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a master in Heaven.”
What kind of slavery was that existing in the days of Christ and his Apostles, which called for these commands to masters and also others to servants? Precisely that kind with which we have to do. We are, therefore, the identical persons addressed. As identical, as when we are fathers; and it is said, "Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath."
Here the Word of God takes fast hold of us, and we cannot extricate ourselves. The Lord puts his finger upon us as masters. He holds up our servants before our face. He tells us, that in the performance of duty, He does not respect us, more than He respects them. He bids us to be particular and conscientious in our treatment of them, for we have a Master in heaven, to whom we shall give account. He bids us render to them--even to them whom we are so prone to consider fit for no other purpose, designed for no other end, than to be hewers of wood and drawers of water—that which is just and equal-just and equal for body and soul, for time and eterpity.
How much masters come short in rendering to servants, what is just and equal for this present world, we cannot say. They have a Master in Heaven. But do they render to them that which is just and equal for the world to come! Is it just and equal to suffer them to live in ignorance of the way of salvation, to die and be eternally lost? Says Job. "If I did despise the cause of my man-servant, or of my maid-servant, when they contended with me; what then shall I do when God riseth up? And when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? Did not He that made me in the womb, make him? And did not one fashion us in the wornb?” Our servants may justly have a controversy with us on the subject of their higher and better interests; and if we despise their cause, in the day when God riseth up and visiteth, we shall be speechless.
The Providence and the Word of God could not more plainly point out to us the duty of imparting the Gospel of salvation to our coloured population; and if that duty remains uns discharged, we shall incur God's severe displeasure.
This duty we must view in the light of a privilege.
It is a privilege to repay obligation: and our obligations to our servants are greater than many are disposed to allow. It is through them that we obtain the houses we live in, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the education we receive. They wear out their lives to furnish us with the necessaries and luxuries of life. Shall we not, then, while we contribute far more than we do to their temporal comforts, esteem it a privilege, to present to them the richest gift of God to man, the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? Will not this be the kindest return that we can make them? And what if infi nite mercy makes us the honored instruments of their salvation, shall we not then esteem our duty an inestimable privilege? We shall so esteem it in the day that the Lord shall come to “make up his jewels."
.. .. (TO. DE CONTINUED.) . . .
From the Missionary Herald.
REPORT OF MESSRS. WILSON AND WYNKOOP.
A general view of the interesting field which Providence seems to be opening for missionary enterprise on the western coast of Africa, together with the object for which Messrs. Wilson and Wynkoop were to visit that coast, were given in the Instructions of the Prudential Committee, delivered to them previously to their embarkation, in November last, and inserted in the last volume of this work, p. 399. These brethren, after visiting Liberia, and touching at most of the native towns between that place and Cape Palmas, thus exploring about 300 miles of the coast, and having experienced much of the goodness of the Lord, both on their voyages and in Africa, arrived in New York, on their return to this country, on the 13th of April.
They embarked at Baltimore, November 28th, 1833, and arrived at Monrovia, January 28th, 1834.
. Reasons for preferring Cape Palmas as a Site for a Missionary Slation. : From the time of our arrival until the 9th of March, we were employed in acquiring information concerning the country along the coast, from Grand Cape Mount, on the northern boundary of Liberia, to Cape Palmas, embracing a distance of something like three hundred miles; and also in taking measures' for the commencement of a mission. The principal places we visited within the bounds just mentioned, were Cape Mount, Monrovia, Caldwell, Grand Bassa, Grand Sesters, Rock Town and Cape Palmas. Besides these, we had opportunity to see and converse with the kings and head-men of all the intermediate towns of any considerable importance along the coast. The place we fixed upon, as the most suitable, in our judgment, for the commencement of missionary operations, is Cape Palmas; and the only step taken is for the erection of a mission-house at that place. The considerations which induced us to select this place, will be briefly enumerated.
We were induced to believe that it would prove more healthful, than any other place we had visited; a consideration, as will be inferred from a subsequent part of this report, of no ordinary importance. In this, however, we may be disappointed, as there had not, when we left the place, been a fair experiment made. But as far as our observation extended, the country thereabouts, is certainly free, in a great measure, from the ordinary indications of a sickly region. It is high, open, cultivated, without marshes and those heavy night dews, which, at Monrovia and Sierra Leone, are regarded as the fertile sources of disease.
The natives on this part of the coast are much more intelligent and numerous than those further to the windward, and are universally desirous of schools. The situation of Cape Palmas is a dividing point, and will afford ali easy access to both the leeward and windward coasts, and perhaps is the most favorable point for extending missionary operations into the interior.
Lastly, it is the only point suitable for the head-quarters of extensive missionary ope. rations within the bounds of an American settlement, not previously occupied by missionary societies. The Agent of the Maryland Colonization Society has purchased a territory at Cape Palmas embracing about twenty square iniles: ard a settlement is commencing under favorable auspices. A fort will be built, and a sinall settlement formed at the outset, just by the side of a very large and populous native town. The site chosen for the mission settlement is balf a mile distant, on an elevated ground, and fronting the sea on the south side. Six acres of land have been tendered by the Agent of the Colony for the purposes of the 'mission; which, together with the elevation of the ground, its apparent healthiness, and its distance from both the colony and the native settlements, render it altogether as suitable à place as could be desired
It is true we had very serious doubts as to the expediency of taking any measures for the immediate erection of the house in the neighborhood of the colony; first, from apprehensions that the colony might embarrass our future efforts for the improvement of the natives; and in the second place, we had fears, lest, in case of any contest between the colonists and the natives, the latter might be tempted to destroy it, situated as it would be out of the protection of the colony. Any apprehension, however, that might be entertained of violence to a missionary establishment from the natives, would be greatly relieved by the consideration, that they manifested a strong desire for the education of their children, and we took all the pains we could to impress the mind of the king and his people with the fact, that the mission is to be entirely distinct from the colony, and will be identified with the interest of the natives. We also engaged a prudent, judicious man to occupy the mission-house, after it should be finished, until the missionaries should come out. "We did not act in this case without the advice of several American settlers, on whose judgment we could rely. Though we have doubts, as expressed above, of the expediency, as a general thing, of missionary establishments within the American colonies on the African coast, it seemed to us necessary to have one station at least in such settlement. If all parts of the country should prove as unhealthful as Liberia and Sierra Leone, and other places which have already been tried, and require as long a time for acclimation, we do not see that this measure could be dispensed with.
There are, within the bounds of this newly purchased territory, three native towns, embracing a population of not less, perhaps, than three or four thousand. Of this population, probably 1,000 or 1,500 are children of a suitable age for the commencement of their education, and who would all be desirous of the privilege of attending school. One of the stipulated articles in the purchase of the land, was that a school should be established in each one of these towns; and the Agent of the colony has invited your Board, through us, to redeem this pledge One of these towns is about eight miles from the American settlement. The other distant about twenty, a town well known by merchantmen as an important Trading mart, situated at the mouth of a large river, and commanding more intercourse with the interior tribes, than any other town on this part of the coast. The king of this town was present at the negociation for the land for the Maryland colo. ny, and told us he was desirous of having a school for the children in his town. He speaks imperfect English, and appreciates the importance of education. We think that he will afford every facility in his power to a missionary in that place.
We will now notice in their order the several topics to which our attention was espe. cially directed in our Instructions, and which we made special objects of inquiry during our stay on the coast.
1. The nature of the Superstitions of the Natives, and the hold which they have taken upon their minds.
We could not ascertain from any of the natives with whom we conversed, that they have at present any distinct ideas about a future state, except such as can be traced to information derived from nominally Christian people who have visited the coast. It is true that, in several of the places we visited, they are in the habit of carrying food statedly to the graves of their deceased friends; but we regard this rather as ihe result of a habit, come down from their ancestors, than of any fixed belief in the continued existence of the deceased. On one occasion, a native who visited the grave of a distinguished king with us, acknowledged that he did not believe that the food we saw there was consumed by the dead, but that the gregree inan, who statedly visited the place for pretended conference with the spirit of the dead, was the eater of it.
They uniformly ascribe the works of creation to God. But they regard the devil as the author of all providence. Hence will be seen at every entrance into their towns a gregree pole, with a rag upon it, or something of the kind, either to prevent his entrance, or to conciliate his favor. They never open trade on board of a ship, without pouring a libation of rum into the water, as a portion which the devil is particularly pleased with.They wear around their necks and wrists gregrees, a small piece of horn, rag, or something of the kind, which has been consecrated by a priest; and they look upon it as a protection against all species of danger.
They have consecrated rocks and trees, where they go to perform some kind of religious ceremony, the particular nature of which is not known, as it is always performed in secret. The trees and rocks are not to be understood as the objects of worship, but the place where it is performed.
Along the leeward coast, between Cape Palmas and the Bight of Benin, we were informed that the natives have idols, and are in the habit of worshipping alligators, sharks, and other fishes, and statedly offer children as a sacrifice to them. We saw nothing of this in our researches.
The gregree worship we do not regard as having a very strong hold upon the minds of the people Many of the head-men, who have been much among Americans and Europeans, have thrown aside their gregrees. Several, at our persuasion, desisted from wearing them. Some gave them to us for nothing, and others sold them for mere trifles. In almost all cases they would be dispensed with, if their inefficacy was made known.We are disposed to think, upon the whole, that the superstitions of the native Africans will be among the smaller obstacles to the spread of Christianity among them. Indeed, the truth concerning them is, they possess little or no religion; and in this respect they are peculiarly ready to receive the gospel.
II. The Nature of their l'ices. On this topic we regret exceedingly the necessity we are under of reporting, that, besides many vices peculiar to the natives of western Africa, as such, the natives along the
coast are thoroughly indoctrinated and practised in many of the most flagrant vices of civilized society. Theft, lying, cheating, stealing, quarrelling, swearing, are prominent features in their present character. Intemperance is rare, but there are abundant reasons to fear that this will ere long, unless counteracted by religious principles, become the great sin of Africa. The sin of laziness, which is so universally charged upon Africans, is by no means applicable to the maritime tribes. We never saw a more sprightly, active set of men any where. They are always eager to engage in work, and we believe nothing is wanting to make them an industrious people, but suitable motives. Adultery and fornication are seldom known, and when detected are severely punished. The people generally regard it as an undoubted privilege to cheat or steal from a stranger when they can; and they seem to entertain no scruples in telling a lie to cover the crime. But when stealing is spoken of as a prominent vice, it ought to be with some qualification. They seldom steal from each other, and when this does occur, if discovered, it is always pun. ished. Nor will they cheat a foreigner in whose service they have been engaged for some time, and who has been kind to them. Under such circumstances they may be trusted to almost any extent.
III. Their Social Condition.
Polygamy is universal. A man's importance in society is according to the number of his wives. These are regarded as his property, and are in reality his servants. They are usually purchased at a very early age. One of the wives in any family is the misa tress of the others, and is honored by them as such. They are all in strict subjection to their husbands, and not unfrequently are severely chastised for the slightest offence. We could not ascertain that there are jealousies or quarrels among the wives of one man.Nor is this so surprising as it might seem at first view, for there is neither honor nor profit in being a wife in Africa. Parents appear to be affectionate to their children. The aged are much reverenced. In the transactions of all important business, the old men take the lead and their sentiments usually determine the result.
The Africans commonly discover a very strong attachment to each other as friends, relatives and countrymen, notwithstanding the withering influence so long exerted by the slave trade.
Between the Galinas river, thirty miles north of Grand Cape Mount, and the river Ca-' vally, thirty miles south, to the leeward of Care Palmas, a distance of more than four hundred miles, there are five distinct languages spoken, the Vey, the Dey, the Bassa, the Kroo, and what is commonly called the Cape-Palmas language. How far these languages extend into the interior, we could not satisfactorily ascertain. One or two of them, the Vey and the Bassa, we know to be spoken to a considerable distance in the interior Of these five, the Kroo is much the most extensive, being spoken, less or more, from Sierra Leone to the Bight of Benin. All thiese languages are simple and similar in their structure, but very imperfect..
It will, we think, be impossible to communicate many ideas on the subject of religion, or any other general subject, through the medium of these languages, without adopting a large number of English terms. This circumstance, together with several others, which it will be well to mention, induce the belief that ere long the English language will become the most common, if not the only language along the coast. The English and American colonies, forts, and trading settlements will contribute materially towards this result. The number of trading vessels from Great Britain and America, have already done much towards spreading the English language. The natives themselves regard it as a kind of accomplishment; it is a stepping-stone to honor at home, and a certain means of procuring employment on board foreign vessels.
But, however probable it is that the English language will ultimately become prevalent among the people along the coast, this will by no means supersede the necessity of missionaries acquiring the native languages. It will not be difficult to acquire a thorough knowledge of them.
At Grand Cape Mount we found a school for teaching the Arabic, taught by a Foulah man, whose tribe resides near Sierra Leone. The Foulahs, with a class who call them. selves Mandingo men, (the African word for Mohammedan or Mussulman) are indefatigable in spreading this language over western Africa. Whether it is classic Arabic which they teach, or modern Arabic, or only the Arabic characters used to write the different languages of the country, we could not ascertain; but the zeal which the teachers manifest in extending it, and the diligence with which it is studied, exhibit a most encouraging aptitude for learning. These facts also evince the expediency of a missionary to that part of the coast being well acquainted with the Arabic language.
The Vey people, the tribe residing on Grand Cape Mount, have recently invented a system of writing entirely new, and altogether different from any other we have seen; in which, although it is not more than two years since it was fot invented, they write let.
ters and books. Some of their characters resemble the Arabic, some resemble Hebrew letters, others Greek, but all of them, except those resembling the Arabic, are merely fanciful. The alphabet is syllabic.
A specimen of native writing in this newly-invented alphabet has been left at the Missionary Rooms. The occasion and mander of its being invented, as well as the characteristics of this method of writing, are nearly the same as those of the Cherokee alphabet invented by Guess, which is now so generally understood and used by the Indians of that tribe.
V. The relation existing between the interior and maritime tribes.
The tribes on the sea coast are the merchants or factors for those in the interior; and their knowledge of the principles of trade, and their acquaintance with foreign languages, resulting from their intercourse with Europeans and Americans, render them far superior, in their own estimation, to their neighbors. Still, however, they are jealous and afraid of these very people whom they affect to hold in contempt. Hence most of the towns on the beach are strongly barricaded, and a watch is constantly kept to prevent sur. prise. Great pains are taken by the people on the coast to prevent any intercourse be. tween foreigners and the tribes in the interior, doubtless for the purpose of keeping them in ignorance, and of monopolizing the whole of the foreign trade.'
This circumstance explains the difficulty which travellers have encountered, in all parts of Africa, in exploring the country. In several cases we found the towns on the sea coast connected with others further back in the country, under the same government, and speaking the same language. Generally, however, the towns on the coast are separate from, and entirely independent of all others. The kingdoms in the interior are commonly more extensive, and are more formidable than those on the coast. A Christian traveller will encounter much less difficulty from sectional jealousies, after a temporary residence on the coast, where his object will be understood to be the dissemination of Christianity, and not commercial speculation.
VI. The disposition of the people with regard to Schools. In answer to this inquiry, we are happy in being able to state that along the whole coast, where we have been, we uniformly found the people desirous of schools. And from what we have seen ourselves, and from what we have learned from others, we are induced to believe thạt there is not a town on the coast where a Christian teacher would not be heartily welcomed. What the motives of the people may be, in particular cases, in desiring schools, and what their views generally are of the nature of an education, we do not pretend to know. But we would confidently say that there is a universal desire, nay an imperious demand for Christian schools. Wherever it was made known to the inbabitants of the towns on the southern coast, that we were going to Cape Palmas for the purpose of teaching the natives, we received applications to send American teachers to their towns. From those to whom we could not promise teachers, we had multiplied, pressing solicitations to receive their sons at Cape Palgas and educate them there." Not unfrequently, they asked a written promise to this effect.
The town of Settra Kroo, one of the most important on the coast, sometime since sent to Monrovia for a teacher, promising at the same time to provide him a house.
At Rock town, where we held an interview with the king and his head men on the suba · ject of establishing a school, they absolutely refused to “set the palaver,” or let us go, until we had given them a written promise, that a teacher should be sent them, if possible, And after we were distant two hundred miles on our way home, we received a message from them, reminding us of the promise.
The desire for schools has, doubtless, grown out of an acquaintance with civilized na.. tions. The People have thus been led to appreciate the advantages which education confers. And if one may judge from the example of a few natives whom we have seen pursuing their education, and the earnestness and facility with which they learn, we cana not think that any judicious effort to meet their desires in this respect will be fruitless.
VII. How far the Gospel may be preached among the natives.
We have already remarked that we regard the superstitions of the Africans among the lesser obstacles to the dissemination of Christianity. They must not be considered, however, as no obstacles. The gregree system is a source of profit to a class of men of some influence; and its most important end, with the majority of the men, is to keep the women in strict subordination to their husbands. But when it is known that Christian. y ity is directly opposed to it, and will, if it gets a footing, destroy the “craft” of the men and raise the women to respectability in society, it is altogether probable that opposition