« PreviousContinue »
MR. KICHERER'S MISSION TO THE HOTTENTOTS.
It was a severe, but just reproach on the general disregard of the perishing Heathen, which was lately uttered by a poor Hottentot woman in one of our assemblies:--" It is a great pity," said she, “and a great sin, that they who so long enjoyed great plenty of the bread of life, did not give one cruinb to the poor heathen; but that God was very good who had forgiven this great sin, and had blessed the little bit they had lately given so much ;” and now, she hoped that Christians would sin no longer against God, in withholding the bread of life, but would abound in giving it more and more.
It was under the impression of similar ideas that the Missionary Society was formed. Many pious ministers and others, “lamenting their criminal unconcern for the honour of God and for the salvation of the perishing souls of men,” considered themselves as imperiously called upon to do something without delay; and they boldly told the world, that “every Christian is called upon to act bis part; and that he cannot, without criIninality, withhold his exertions toward procuring obedience to the command of Christ, who says, “ Go ye unto all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” And now we may gratefully say, “Blessed be the Lord our God, who put such a thing as this into their hearts," and that, “his band being upon them for good, they have been able to offer so willingly after this sort;" and that he has at length crowned their labours with such abundant success.
We have already informed our friends, that Mr. Kicherer, after having laboured about four years in Africa, found his health greatly reduced by incessant labours and hardships; and having occasion to visit his native country, in consequence of family concerns, determined, for reasons before assigned, to bring with him three of his African congregation. By these means, the Society and the public, have enjoyed the pleasure of beholding the fruits of their labours, and have received great edification by their simple but energetic declaration of the great things of God.
Mr. Kicherer appears to have been prepared of God, in a
peculiar manner, for Missionary labours. At an early period of life, he happened to read Cook's Voyages : his mind was then led to contemplate the miserable condition of the human race sitting in the region and shadow of death. His soul longed for their salvation; and he eagerly desired, if possible, to be instrumental thereto. But he had no conception of any means whereby this could be accomplished, nor did he know there was a Missionary in the world. For many years, however, the ardent desire of evangelizing the heathen dwelt on his mind, and never forsook him. At length, the Missionary Society was formed; when, being one afternoon at the house of a friend, a Dutch Minister first informed him that British Christian's were devising means to send the gospel to the Heathen. It is impossible to express the joy afforded him by this intelligence, From this moment, Mr. K. exulted in the hope that he should one day gratify the dearest wish of his heart, in becoming the messenger of Jesus to the benighted world. Application was soon made to the Society; and he was accepted as one of their Missionaries.
On the 5th of December, 1795, Mr. Kicherer, together with Dr. Vanderkemp, Mr. Edmond, and Mr. Edwards, embarked for the Cape of Good Hope, where they arrived in March 1799. At the very time of their arrival, a deputation of three Boschemen came thither, earnestly desiring that some good men might be sent to instruct them. The Missionaries consi- . dered this as a clear call to visit the poor wild Hottentots. Messrs. Kicherer and Edwards were appointed to this work ; and leaving Cape Town, May 22, 1803, they proceeded to Rodezand, where Mr. Voss was then minister. Here they met a, hearty welcome, and were set apart to the work of the ministry.
On the 25th of June they left Rodezand, laden with the presents of their friends. Their journey sometimes lay through very difficult passes of the mountains, so that it was necessary to add fourteen oxen to their own, in order to climb the steep ascents. Sometimes they travelled for many days without the sight of a human being, surrounded only by steinbocks and ostriches. Here and there they found a cultivated spot; and were hospitably entertained by the farmers, who occasionally gave them sheep and other stores. At other times they slept in the open desart, exposed to the danger of lions and tigers, which greatly abound in that country. The narrative, which will shortly be published, contains an account of some special deliverances from the attacks of lions; which were wonderfully providential.
About the end of July they passed the last inhabited house of Rockfield, and found the country almost without a blade of grass. The eggs of the ostriches, however, contributed to their comfortable support. After travelling seven days without meeting a human creature, they arrived at a place, where a few
Boschemen resided, three of whom came to them. Next day they were visited by about twenty more. At length they reached the spot intended for their abode, which they called Happy, Prospect Fountain; and immediately began to build a house and plant a garden,
Here they commenced their labours, among thirty or forty people, first teaching them to spell Dutch. The Lord was now pleased to send them a man and his wife, who, understanding the language both of the Hottentots and of the Dutch, became very useful to thein as their interpreter, &c. The people among whom he laboured, were chiefly Boschemen; the most savage and ferocious, of that country. The doctrine of a Supreme Being was entirely unknown to them; they did not know they had immortal souls; but were, in most respects, “ like the beasts that perish.” Their habitations are generally among the rocks, where they dig a small round den, about three feet deep, which they sometimes cover with reeds. Here they spend most of their time in sleep, except when roused by hunger, when they sally forth in quest of some wild beasts; but when unsuccessful in this attempt, they make shift to subsist upon snakes, mice, or wild onions: and such is their idleness, that rather than be at the pains of seeking food, they will live several days together without it!
The people being in general afraid to come near an European, Mr. Kicherer was under the necessity of tempting them at first, by giving them a little tobacco; of which they are extravagantly fond. He would then take the opportunity of showing, that the great difference between the Christians and themselves, in the superior comforts enjoyed by the former, was occasioned by their knowledge of God; of whose nature and perfections they would hear with great astonishment. .
At first, Mr. Kicherer attempted to preach to them systematically ; - but he found little effect from this. He then had recourse to the method which the Moravians found the most useful, simply preaching the love and death of Jesus Christ, and inviting them to come to hiin, that they might have life.He would tell them, how happy he found his own heart when the love of God was shed abroad in it; and would advise them to go aside and pray that the Lord would teach them; and that he would cause them by his Spirit, to know whether he was his messenger or not.
For a considerable time he remained in painful uncertainty, whether his labours were blessed to the real conversion of any of his hearers. Yet, in this situation, he was enabled to leave the matter with God, - desiring to be faithful, whether suc- ' cessful or not. From that time, his labours were greatly blessed. He had the most undoubted evidence of the solid conversion of many souls. One of the first of these was a man, called John, who was brought under decp convic
His beartcarcely bear toing to
tions of sin ; for he had been a most notorious offender. He lived but about five or six months after; during which time his experience was wonderful. His heart was wholly taken up with the love of Christ, so that he could scarcely bear to speak of worldly things; and he died rejoicing in the Lord, saying to his teacher, “I die, depending on the blood and righteousness of Christ; I go to Heaven, and there I will wait for you." His son, who came from a distance to see his dying father, was also converted, obtained his liberty from his naster, and is now usefully employed as a schoolmaster in the settlement.
Mr. Kicherer would sometimes take a walk in the fields, and find, scattered here and there, prostrate on the ground, several of his congregation ; and some with a child in each hand, pouring out their souls to God in the most lively and copious serains. Thus was he encouraged to go forward amidsi his arduous labours. Before he left Zak River to visit Europe, ire had baptized about thirty-four adult persons, and fitty children. lle nad a stated congregation, of about six hundred persons, in a great measure civilized, and dwelling together. He bas a building, pretty large, for a church. The unbaptized live behind his house in huts, a number of which, in a circular torm, inclosing their cattle, are called Kraals; umle the baptized inhabit houses of the European form, placed iu tront of his dwelling. He has had the unspeakable satisfaction of perceiving an universal change in the people, who are become literally, as well as spiritually, new creatures.Those who were so filthy, that a civilized person could scarcely approach them, are uow clean; instead of being naked, or only covered with a dirty sheep's skin, they are now decently clothed; and those who knew not there was a God, are become devout worshippers of God, and fervent lovers of Jesus Christ; industrious and obliging, bringing up their offspring in the fear of the Lord. The concern of these dear people in parting from their father and pastor lor a whole year, was indescribable; and they are now eagerly wishing for his return by the month of March. No doubt, our readers will earnestly pray that their affectionate wisnes may be gratified, and that he may resume hiis labours among thein with abundant success. They are, however, supplied by a faithful man of God, raised up in that country. * This is a very slight sketch of the wonderful work of God at Zak River: a full account, containing a variety of particulars, interesting and remarkable in no common degree, will, we hear, shortly be published by the Directors; to which we reler our readers for a richi spiritual and intellectual feast.
[Some particular Account of the Three Converted Hottentots who have lately visited London, and whose Likenesses are prefixed to this Number, will be put at the head of our Intelligence for the present month.]
ON THE RENEWING INFLUENCE OF
THE HOLY SPIRIT.
It is obvious that, among the multitudes who profess to believe in the Bible as the revealed will of God, many are divided and opposed among themselves, not merely respecting the less essential part of its doctrines, but even concerning those which, if true, must materially affect the salvation of sinners. Such a doctrine is that of the renewing influence of the Holy Spirit upon the mind of man! It is often intimated in the Old Testament; - it is clearly asserted, and strongly enforced by our Lord and the apostles: -- yet it is ridiculed by many people called Christians ; — by many, it is treated with neglect; and by many who profess not only to believe, but likewise to have experienced its influence, it is practically exposed to reproach.
The only specious ground upon which this doctrine can be disputed by professors of Christianity is, that it only took effect during the first ages of the gospel; and, therefore, that all pretences to the experience of it in the present age, are either hypocritical or enthusiastic. It is true, that in the apos · tolic age, the renewing influence of the Holy Spirit upon the minds of converts to Christianity, was commonly accompanied with miraculous gifts; and that pretensions to the latter may, at present, reasonably be exposed to such a censure. But that operation of the Holy Spirit which sanctifies the affections, is plainly distinct in its nature, from that which enabled the disciples of Christ to work miracles; and is even contrasted with miraculous gifts in the word of God. “ Rejoice not," said our Lord, “that the spirits are subject to you; but that your names are written in Heaven.” “ Though I speak,” said Paul, “ with tongues, and have the gift of prophecy, and have faith to remove mountains, and have no charity, — I am nothing." Accordingly, the same inspired writer intimates, that the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit exceeded his miraculous gifts in' duration, as well as in importance. “Charity never faileth ; but prophecies shall fail, and tongues shall cease.”
That God, who is a Spirit, should be able to communicate his will 10 our spirits, without the intervention of a material medium, is not incredible upon any rational principle: that he has done this, in many instances, cannot be denied, consistently with a belief in the Bible. The measure of divine revelation being completed in the New Testament, no person, who is possessed of that inestiin able treasury, stands in need of new external discoveries of the will of God; but an attentive observer of his own heart, and of human conduct in general,