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A FAR-OFF MISSION FIELD.
known by one single Missionary, is making satisfactory progress, a work in which we are anxious that our readers should take that interest which will lead them to help it by their prayers.
Our publications supply information respecting our various Missionary fields. Our object is to excite interest, for it is not to be supposed that people can feel much interest in matters of which they know but little, and we are anxious they should be interested, that they may help us—first by their prayers, then by their gifts.
Money is important. Prayer is still more so. There is room for Christians to grow in their belief of the power of prayer. Prayer in Christ's name carries with it prevailing power. The Father honours the Son by answering it. More prayer would bring down larger blessing. The fertilizing rain would drop more abundantly on the pastures of the wilderness, and the little hills, as they looked down on the pastures clothed with flocks and the valleys covered over with corn, would rejoice on every side.
Let our readers then take a map of the world, and observe that northwest portion of the American continent which stretches out in a westerly direction, as though to embrace Asia approaching to meet it from the west, until the two continents are parted only by the narrow channel called Behring's Straits. That projection of the American continent is separated from the vast plains which extend around Hudson's Bay, and through which the great Mackenzie River flows, until it reaches the Arctic sea by the Rocky Mountains. The whole of this north-western limb is not English territory. The more western part, towards Behring's Straits, belongs now to the United States. Between the boundary line and the Rocky Mountains lies our Missionary district, called the Youcon district. To reach it our Missionary has to cross the Rocky Mountains. The Post on the Mackenzie side of the mountains, which may be considered as his starting-point, is Peel-River Fort. On the Youcon side of the mountains is another Post, called La Pierre's House. The distance between the Posts is a hundred miles, and at each of them is a little band of Christian Indians. Six hundred miles by canoe to the southwest lies Fort Youcon, which is the head-quarters of our Missionary, the Rev. R. M’Donald. There, also, is another group of Christian Indians. In different directions, from 150 to 500 miles distant from Fort Youcon, lie different tribes which have to be visited by our Missionary, and to what an extent this is done our readers may judge, when we tell them that in the year 1866 one Missionary travelled by canoe, sledge, and snow-shoes, no less than 5500 miles. He finds them dark heathen, and tells them of God's mercy in Christ. The Spirit of God opens
the heart of many of these poor people, and they attend to the things which are spoken. After a time they are baptized. During the year 1866 no less than 150 adult Indians were baptized, and 150 more were waiting for baptism. As a little group of Christians is gathered at any spot, one from amongst the number, the most earnest and best fitted for the work, is chosen from amongst them, to be their Christian headman, and gather them for prayer and instruction, until the Missionary comes again. Thus Bonne Plume, baptized Andrew Flett, is over the PeelFort Indians ; Katza, baptized Henry Venn, is over the La-Pierre-House
A FAR-OFF MISSION FIELD.
Indians; Bekenechartye, baptized David Anderson, is over the BlackRiver Indians; Sahnyate, baptized John Hardisty, is over the KutchaKutchin at Fort Youcon; and another Indian, baptized Peter Roe, is over the Gens-du-Large. The fathers of the Missionary work at home are perpetuated in the spiritual children born in the Mission fields.
As yet we have heard nothing of the year 1867. Our last letter from Mr. McDonald was dated October 24, 1866: it reached us October 16, 1867. We are therefore giving to our readers some of the very last tidings we have received.
On September 11th Mr. McDonald reached Peel-Fort River, and on the next day, during evening service, baptized five Indians of Peel's Fort, and six of La Pierre's House. Of these people, Mr. McDonald remarks in his journal
“ Sept. 12—This evening I appointed Andrew Flett, alias Bonne Plume, one of those baptized, as head over the others, to encourage them to lead a Christian life, and to teach them as far as lies in his power. He is a young man who appears to be a sincere Christian; and he will, I trust, do well. May God grant that all those baptized this day may become new creatures in Christ Jesus, and adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things by a holy life! A few of the MackenzieRiver Indians attended prayers; but some of them appear to be more inclined to Romanism than they did a year ago. A Romish priest has been among them within that interval, and it appears he has partially gained them over. But unless they enjoy a fairer opportunity of being instructed in the knowledge of divine truth than any they have as yet had, it is to be feared they will eventually, the most of them, if not all, become Romanists. I trust, however, that they will attend to the instruction which may be given them from time to time by Mrs. Flett; and that they will learn to know the truth as it is in Jesus.'
Next day, with a party of twenty, he set out across the mountains, a journey which occupied four days. On the first of these snow fell most of the day. On the second day Mr. McDonald and a companion, stopping behind to pick berries, in the hope of overtaking the main body before they reached the camping ground, found themselves enveloped in a cloud, and lost their way. They wandered about all night, unsuccessfully, for, as they afterwards found, instead of going on, they had described a circle, and had gone back instead of pushing forward. In the morning they were found by the Indians, who had come to look for them.
On reaching La Pierre's House they found Henry Venn and his Christian Indians assembled to meet them. Since his last visit there had been sorrow among them, Henry Venn's wife having died three weeks before. “She was a sincere Christian, and her end was peace. She died in firm reliance on Christ, with the blessed hope of a glorious immortality. Her husband bears his bereavement with Christian resignation.” The next day Mr. McDonald baptized ten adult Indians, and one boy of twelve years of age. He says-“ After divine service I had a conversation with Henry Venn, and was glad to learn of him that the most of the Peel-River Indians had passed the summer with him, and that he had done what he could to instruct them in divine things. I
exhorted him to be faithful, and to be unwearied in his efforts to keep alive a spirit of piety among his tribe. May he be long blessed in his own soul and to the souls of others !"
On his way down from La Pierre's House to Fort Youcon, Mr. McDonald stopped at Peter Taylor's camp of Indians. Most of them were away when he arrived, but they soon gathered, when he baptized twenty-two of them, all adults excepting four.
Two days' voyage further down he was met by another band of Indians, according to previous arrangement, and of these he baptized twelve adults and one child.
On September 28th Fort Youcon was reached. Snow had been falling most of tlie way; ice was drifting down the river, and winter was coming on with its usual severity to claim the country for its own for the next six or seven months. But the stern frost that seals up the rivers does not stay the progress of the waters of life. They still flow on to fertilize the waste.
TALAMPITYA. Our Missionary, the Rev. J. Alcock, is engaged in the itinerating branch of the Kandy Mission work, for the Missionary work which is being carried on in the beautiful central districts of Ceylon has various branches : there is the central work in the town of Kandy, for many years superintended by the Rev. W. Oakley; the Kandy itinerating branch; and the Tamil Cooly Mission.
In Kandy there are three congregations, the largest of them, a Singhalese congregation-assembling in Trinity church on the Mission premises, with an average attendance of 100, of whom 41 are communicants. In Kandy an encouraging movement is going forward with reference to the Lord's-day. Several large houses have discontinued business on Sunday—a very hopeful sign; nor is this movement confined to Kandy: its influence is felt in the surrounding districts. At Hangurankettia, about eighteen miles from Kandy, the proprietor of the coffee estates permits no labour on the Sunday: There are, scattered here and there on the estates, some twenty baptized Christians, for whose benefit this gentleman has built a neat little church.
A temporary meeting was held in Hangurankettia church, in which the Christians were reminded of their duty to make Christ known to the heathen, and to support their own teachers. Our converts cannot be too early instructed in these duties. erly it was thought that they ought not to be approached with such subjects until they had become strong. These duties reserved to be the topmost stone of the building, which, in many cases, never became strong enough to bear them: now we plant these Christian duties in the very foundation, and they grow with the
growth of the building. At the conclusion of the meeting, during which facts connected with the Society's labours in different parts of the world were placed before them, a collection was made of seven shillings. “ Who will despise the day of small things ?”
Our Missionary now resumed his journey, with the intention of visiting Talampitya, an interesting spot, where there is a congregation of earnest Christians, of which we have frequently spoken in the pages of the - Gleaner.” He expected that some of them would have come to meet him at Kornegalle, about twenty-six miles. from Kandy; but the letter which he had sent there had been delayed.
Sept. 26–Visited Talampitiya. My visit was quite unexpected, as my letter had been accidentally delayed. The intelligence of my arrival soon collected most of the Christians together, when we all united in prayer and thanksgiving for God's protection, and permitting us to meet again. I was glad to find that most of them are growing in grace, in heavenly love, and increasing in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. It appears to me that there are three or four remarkably pious men, who are used by God to feed this heavenly flame. The fire of God's love and the light of his truth is shining in this dark district, and will I trust never þe put out, but that many will come to it and light their lamps. There was one circumstance which occupied our attention, which will illustrate the difficulties and the necessity of being prepared to take up the cross if they wish to be sincere followers of Jesus. The wife of one of the Christians has left her husband and family, and declares that she will not live with him. I could only recommend him to follow the advice of St. Paul, in I. Corinthians, and pray that God would give him wisdom concerning all things.
Sept. 30: Lord's-day—This has been a very happy Sabbath to myself, and I trust one rich in blessing to many others. It has been my great privilege to admit four believers into our little communion. These are the first I have been privileged to baptize. Thus I have been permitted to
reap that which I did not sow: others laboured, and I am permitted by God's blessing to enter into their labours. I found that the candidates had been under instruction for one year at least, and that they greatly desired baptism. They had very clear views of the corruption of the human heart, justification by faith, and the necessity of holiness, without which no man can see the Lord. Our little company, of about thirty, assembled at eleven o'clock in the schoolroom. We had no fine church, but a building well covered with straw. The four baptized persons chose the names—David, Salathiel, Silas, and Rebekah. Rebekah is the wife of one of our devoted Christians, well spoken of by all, especially those who are without the pale of our communion. I trust that our female Christians may be blessings, and living examples to the surrounding heathen, whose moral condition is too well known to need description. The other three baptized persons are all young men of about twenty, all married ; and I trust ere long that their wives may follow in their footsteps.