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THE writer offers the following pages to the churches of his country as en humble contribution to their stock of knowledge relative to heathen lands. It contains a faithful record of events which have occurred with
the range of his experience and observation, and supplies much that may serve to illustrate the peculiar attributes of African society. It may, he ventures to hope, tend materially to promote the study of the philosophy of missions. It will furnish both the Sage and the Divine with facts for which perhaps they were not prepared, and exhibit phases of humanity which they have not hitherto observed. It will further show that, amid circumstantial differences there is a radical identity in the operations of human depravity, in Asia, in Polynesia, and in Africa; and that while the Gospel is the only, it is also the uniform remedy for the distress of a world convulsed by sin, and writhing with anguish. It will present striking examples of the complete subjugation of some of the fiercest spirits that ever trod the burning sands of Africa, or shed the blood of her sable offspring.
The Writer has indulged but slightly in philosophical disquisition, as he deemed it his province principally to supply facts. He leaves it with men of leisure and reflecting habits to analyze, compare, and deduce from those facts such doctrines as they supply. Indeed, little in this way can be added to the luminous works of Drs. Campbell and Harris, and Messrs. Hamilton, Noel, and others, by whom the subject of Missions has been so learnedly and eloquently illustrated. He hopes no apology will be deemed necessary for any imperfections which may appear in the preparation of his Narrative. The collocation of terms, and the polish of periods have made but a small part of his studies. Such pursuits, he conceives, were not the objects for which he was sent to Africa, and they would have but ill comported with the circumstances in which he spent a large portion of his arduous life on that benighted continent. He feels confident that lettered men will look into the pages of an African Evangelist for things far more substantial and important than the graces of composition-an accomplishment which the Author much admires, bu to which he makes no pretension. He makes his present appearance before the British public less in the capacity of an Author than of a Witness, who most earnestly desires to establish and to enforce the claims of perishing, and helpless, and all but friendless millions, for whom he has hitherto lived and laboured-whom he ardently loves, and with whomall black, barbarous, and benighted as they are-he hopes to live, labour, and die!
Inured to active habits, and unaccustomed to sedentary pursuits as the Writer has been, he has found the preparation of the present volume, in addition to the translation of the Scriptures and of other books, and the almost unremitting labours of the pulpit and the platform, an arduous undertaking. This task has been attended with a multiplicity of mental
exercises of a very diversified character. Some of these exercises have been solemn and painful, others sweet and soothing. He has been led to retrace the windings of a long and chequered pilgrimage, and to live over again much of his by-gone life. The review has, in many parts, been deeply humbling, but in all highly profitable. It has been refreshing to recount the mercies of the God whom he serves, which have been abundantly vouchsafed to him and his household in distant climes, and amid savage men. He has also ofttimes rejoiced in spirit, when he called to mind the displays of Divine grace, which have attended his very imperfect efforts to save the lost, and to benefit those who had no benefactor. Of time, however, he has often been reminded, that, as much is gone, little remains; while even that little trembles in the balance of an awful uncertainty. Of those who began at the same period with himself the career of missionary toil, the greater number have sunk into the grave; and not a few of those who followed long after, have also been gathered to their fathers. He is especially reminded of one, much honoured and endeared, whose tragical death, of all others, has most affected him. John Williams and he were accepted by the Directors at the same time, and designated to the work of God, at Surrey Chapel, on the same occasion. The fields of their service were both arduous, although of a widely different character. After much trial and many dangers, both have been permitted to return to their native land, and to publish narratives of their respective labours. Thus far they run parallel; but here they part company. "The Martyr of Erromanga" has finished his course, and rests from his labours; while his early friend still lives amidst the conflict. The Writer now feels that his work in England is done, and that the spirit of the stranger and the pilgrim is stealing powerfully over him. He longs once more to brave the mighty ocean; and eagerly anticipates the hour when he shall again reach the shores of his adopted country, and appear in the midst of the children of the Wilderness.
Amidst the dangers of the Deep, and the trials of the Desert, the Author will reflect with satisfaction upon the testimony he has left behind him to the condition and claims of the far distant tribes of South Africa. He is not without hope that it will, in some measure, serve to give him an interest in the sympathies and prayers of the Christian public when he will be "far hence among the Gentiles." He leaves it to the churches of Britain as a memento of poor, degraded Africa. He hopes that all who peruse it, reflecting upon that unhappy and much injured region, will feel the urgency of its claims, and fervently supplicate the Throne of Grace on its behalf!
He bequeaths his book as a legacy of grateful affection to the multitudes of all classes, from whom he has received tokens of personal kind ness, which, while life lasts, he will ever remember; and as an expres sion of a deep solicitude to promote the diffusion of the Gospel in tha Continent to which his labours have been more especially directed.