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Help for San Domingo.
AN APPEAL: BY ISAAC PEGG. MHE years 1869 and 1871 were marked by two events wbich, although they
1 passed unnoticed by European senators, will, we believe, in the future become famous in the world's history. In these years the Government of the United States took possession of the bay of Samana, leased out to it for a trifling sum, and a plebiscitum issued by President Buenavetura Baez proved that an overwhelming majority of Dominicans were desirous of being included in its government and under its protection. In turn, almost every civilised power had rejected similar advances. Judge how changed are circumstances, since Cromwell, in 1655, degraded Admiral Penn and General Venables because they only seized Jamaica and could not conquer San Domingo; since England spent her £20,000,000, and shed the blood of 40,000 sons, in like vain attempts; or since Le Clerc, of France, and many Spanish herocs, contended for its rule. The change is worth the marking. Jamaica was raised from insignificance to an important British colony ; San Domingo! priest-ridden and oppressed, despoiled of one attraction after another, is friendless, almost unknown, and goes forth among the peoples, with many a tear, seeking a ruler and a defending arm. Yet this is the island concerning which a celebrated traveller has written in a recent work: “Probably no spot on earth, take it altogether, and looking at it in all its natural aspects, can be found more lovely ; and it is safe to say, probably no extent of territory the world over, contains within itself, under proper auspices, so many elements of prosperity, worldly success, and happiness as the Island of St. Domingo." Including Hayti, which forins nearly one-third of its extent, it has about 25,000 square miles of surface, setting aside the dependant islands, Saona, Beata, Gonaives, and Tortuga. Both the temperate and tropical climates are experienced here, a circumstance due to its being intersected by two chains of mountains, the Cibao and Monte Christo, both of which present the greatest variety of elevation, breadth and fruitfulness. Second only to Cuba, the Queen of the Antilles, in size, in every natural feature it holds a higher place. Rich in iron, coal, and copper, silver and gold ; abounding in the finest forms of West Indian produce; watered everywhere by streams that gush from the mountain sides; with many vast llanos covered with food sufficient for millions of cattle and sheep ; the fecundity of the fish in its bays and rivers unrivalled; with the richest alluvial or vegetable soil;-yet, were it not for its tobacco and mahogany trade it would be quite as much unknown as Unyanyembe. Yet since necessity drives from British shores 252,435 of her bread-winners in a year; not many years hence, such a spot shall see from American and European shores thousands crowding who shall meet its great demands for toilers, skill, and capital, and raise it high among the Western lands. Even now the movement bas commenced, and we have watched the settling down of scores who came
" To rear homes amid trees that glow
As if gems were the fruitage of every bough:
O'er the green savannas so broad and still.” The circumstances under which we first saw the shores of St. Domingo were most unfavourable. Twenty-eight days on the Atlantic when in its angrier mood, and the greater part of that time on our back, had exhausted us past the power to stand alone. And when “Land ho!” was first cried, and we were assisted upon deck, it was to see the bold front of Pico Isabella, the place where Columbus founded his first town, covered with a mist which had risen far above its 3,000 feet of elevation; and which was occasioned by the rain-fall on the
preceding night. On this November-day, the ordinary thermometer was as useless as we have proved it to be in these latitudes a hundred times since. The sun blazed forth with more power than Fabrenheit ever seemed to dream of. And when the anchor was dropt, after quitting the boat which met us, and the ox-cart that followed half buried in water, and after riding upon the backs of the swarthy men who waded out from shore to receive us, and, finally landing, it was our lot to meet but few attractions. Through the town, almost enclosed by mountains, not a breath of air from the sea could come. The streets were submerged by the rain; while the drift from the mountains, and the trampling of hundreds of horses (coming into the town from Santiago with tobacco), had reduced the place to something worse than an Irish bog. A malarious fever, born from the stagnant filth, had spread throughout the town; and millions of mosquitos met us in clouds at every turn. The prospect of staying at the only unoccupied boarding house in the town did not serve to brighten our hopes. The lower part of the house contained four open rooms, where gambling, drinking, and dining took their turns. The sleeping apartments were partitioned off from each other by boarding, run up about four or five feet from the floor, and half-way to the ceiling. A wood frame, with canvas stretching from end to end, served for bed and bedstead. On this a pillow, lying upon a board at the head, and a doubled sheet, and our bed was quite en règle. One chair, one table, and a wash-hand basin completed the furniture of the room. That room was the scene of conflict after conflict with hosts of sanguinary foes. Ants, centipedes, scorpions, and clouds-literally clouds—of musquitos, performed many à deed of valour, and thousands of frogs continued croaking throughout the night, causing us to watch the flight of the weary hours. Covered with a mass of sores, and worn out by the sickening process of acclimation, after twenty days' experience, a missionary and his wife had learned their first lesson of enduring hardness for God among the heathen.
Puerta Plata, although a small town, is of considerable importance as the greatest depôt in the Republic for exports and imports. And this is also the point from which has gone forth all the evangelical teaching that has reached the people. In its paliny days, the Rev. W. K. Rycroft, of the Baptist, and the Revs. Towell and Darrell, of the Wesleyan Mission, laboured here with varying success. No natives joined them, but several small churches of African emigrants were organized. There were five or six persons at Cabbarets and Batty, and four or five at Monoun, who met together for worship among the Baptists; a church at Samana, of forty members; a very small body in St. Domingo city, and about forty members, including Baptists, Episcopalians, Moravians, and Wesleyans, under the supervision of the Wesleyan minister at Puerta Plata. But when the island became subject to Spanish rule, in 1863, Archbishop Monijan issued an order closing the meeting-houses of even these poor flocks. Subsequently they were re-opened ; and, during our detention in Puerta Plata, we often had the pleasure of preaching to a large and miscellaneous body of hearers. These were the first evangelical sermons the people had heard for seven years, other than such as were delivered by uninstructed native teachers, and though the services were studiedly simple, they were oft-times sacred and solemn. Scarcely would attention follow silence, when suppressed weeping would be followed by bitter and audible lamentations. In some cases, there would manifest themselves the joy of faith and the bliss of repose in Christ. The bal masque was twice postponed, because the demand for tickets had fallen below a remunerative sale; and there are not wanting some, then converted, now leading lives which proved that they had received the Gospel with reverence and godly fear. Thus we gathered in our firstfruits, and passed away to other scenes and other labours.
One year's really arduous toil in the midst of our nine Turks Islands' churches had made a change desirable; and we sought it among the homes of our Dominican converts. Taking over a few articles of furniture, we arranged to live in our own hired house, so as to escape the expense, surroundings, and associations of hotel life. The visit was ill-timed, for circumstances, not inclinations, ruled us. It was in the middle of the rainy season, but as work was to be done weather was a secondary affair. Spite of the pitiless rain, miles of mud, and swollen rivers, two days after arriving we took horse and rode up the coast, about thirty-six miles, to visit our people there. A rub down with rum, and a sound sleep in a hammock slung from the roof, proved capital restoratives after a day's fatigue ; and when we rose with the sun the following day it was to find the house packed with a motley gathering from Cabbarets, Batty, and the regions round about.' Never was there a wider opening for a gospel sermon than among this people who had virtually not heard one for fifteen years. The scene was deeply affecting. Men who had not shed tears before sobbed like children ; and in after meetings there seemed much searching of heart and repentance before God. We encouraged the people “in the good old paths,' and succeeded in re-organising a church, which has since grown to sixteen members. Spanish Bibles were in great demand, and on our return home we sent 150, with hymn-books and primers. The indifference of the neighbourhood was entirely sbaken off, and now we can boast in their having built a reputable wooden chapel, capable of seating 100 persons, which is customarily filled on Sundays. With sunrise the next morning we were riding round to all the adjacent canucos or farms, until by nightfall we had traversed over forty miles. That day we had played the role of physician, surgeon, planter, lawyer, and arbitrator, and retired to rest with the hope that we had improved the district, and poured sunlight into some dark soul. On the morrow we performed a feat that made the people wonder mucb, riding thirty-six miles through sand, bogs, rivers, and rain, and reaching Puerta Plata in a few hours. Another sun no sooner rose in the sky than we were dashing away through the rivers and the rain, which unitedly threatened to hinder our journey to Monoun. In this village we found an old African who had been a consistent professor and teacher of the gospel for sixty years, spending his Sabbaths in exhortation or visiting the sick. “I no see de minister ob de Lord dis yer twenty year, and I'se so glad to see you now, 'fore de Lord.' This he said as he tried to embrace us, a civility we fortunately escaped. We did not return to our little cabin from this place, another thirty miles journey, till night was far advanced. Nevertheless, our house was open by eight A.m. next day for the gratuitous instruction of young and old, we hoping by this means to reach the Catholic residents. This work, with preaching and prayer-meetings, kept us regularly employed from that hour to twelve P.M., the house being invariably most crowded at meal times. Even when we left the island again the most important branch of our work was continued. Some one or other of our people always had a house open, and religious services on the Sunday. But broken down at last by illness, £40 poorer, and yet grateful to God, we reached our island home, and only crawled out of bed after a month of sickness. Thus ended the missionary's first holiday.
It was in November, 1871, that our valued friend, Dr. Underhill conveyed to us a resolution passed by the Committee of the Baptist Missionary Society, authorising us in the future to make Puerta Plata the head-quarters of our operations, still continuing our supervision of the Turks' Islands Churches. The arrangement was in accordance with our hopes, and seemed to come as an answer to oft-repeated prayers. We effected our removal with as little delay as possible; and on our arrival in this, our new home, immediately instituted enquiries into the possibility of hiring a place suitable for our future assemblies. In the meantime we conducted services in Monoun, and at our dwelling. house. Finding no place suitable for such purposes, at a rent which could be covered, a small, house was secured at £35, and fitted up temporarily as a chapel, seating sixty-five persons. Privileged to preach to the natives in their own tongue-Creole, French, or Spanish-much interest was excited, and our congregation increased to three or four hundred; and the hand of God was manifest in the conversion of twenty persons formerly members of the Romish church. Notwithstanding all this, the difficulties in our way were anything but fanciful. Oftentimes during the services 100° was registered by the thermometer in the shade, and a number of hearers would succumb to fainting. And when this did not occur we were liable to have our friends disperse, every garment upon them wetted through by a passing heavy tropical shower. Now, however long-suffering people might be in the spring, a congregation could never be maintained, under such circumstances, in the rainy season; and we had before us the gloomy prospect of our work coming to a dead-lock or being abandoned. Actuated by such fears, an effort was immediately made to obtain funds with which to erect mission-premises and chapel; and, since the town was burnt down the preceding year, we may consider that the inhabitants of the town acted liberally in contributing £90, four of which were given by the Romish priest. We then paid a visit to San Domingo city, and succeeded in inducing President El Gran Cindano B. Baez, to pass a “resolucion" through the Senate on the twenty-fourth of May, 1872, authorising us to import into the Republic such building materials as were needed in the carrying out of our project; thus gaining the equivalent of £200. Having succeeded thus far, after visiting our Turks' Islands Churches, we came, viâ New York, to England, in order to obtain the £900 still required.
Perhaps no spot on earth needs the gospel more than San Domingo; yet no voice is ever raised to proclaim it, other than that of the native teachers. Lying, cheating, blasphemy, concubinage, and murder, are, alas! prevalent everywhere. To the perpetration of these crimes the Sabbath-day is specially dedicated; the only variations of such scenes being cock-fights and bal masques. By their example, the Romish priests are ringleaders in such practices. Some of the people bursting through all Romanist obligations, have gone back to the vilest forms of Obeah superstition.
Not far distant are scattered a number of smaller islands, principal among which is Porto Rico, all now entirely open to the gospel, but into which fields of labour there are none to enter. Our hope is, that should we make St. Domingo a base for operations hereafter, we shall also be able to branch out in these different directions.
A year ago we waited upon the Governor-General of Jamaica, Sir J. P. Grant, and succeeded in inducing him to take instant measures for the disendowment of religion in Turk's Islands; and, since a law was passed for this purpose, two Episcopal clergymen and the Wesleyan missionary have removed, leaving 4,700 people-1,970 of whom are Baptists-entirely to the teaching of one clergyman and ourselves; and our continuance there will very much depend upon our ability to maintain our work in St. Domingo.
Such are some of the varied and important issues involved in our success, and for these reasons we appeal for help for our work to this more favoured land. Every day we are detained in making that appeal our work in preaching the gospel is hindered.
[We beg to call the earnest attention of our readers to this appeal. Mr. Pegg was one of our students, and has become one of the ablest missionaries we have ever met with; he only needs present aid, and he will establish churches in San Domingo which will be a lasting blessing. We have often prayed the Lord to make our College the mother of nissionaries, and he has now begun to lear us. One brother has gone to China, and two to Spain. Nr. Pegg leads the way in another direction, which we hope will require a noble army of missionaries from our College. The tact, ability, and grace of this dear brother are beyond all praise. If it were in our power we would give him all the money he needs, and send him back to San Domingo at once ;- as we cannot do this we commend his appeal to the special generosity of all Christians. Never was there a better case. We fear it may take hiin months to collect the £700 he now requires, and all this time precious souls are perishing for lack of knowedge. Such a man ought not to be an hour away from his post, if liberality can keep him at it.-C. H. s.]
Christopher Ness and his " Autidote.”
BY SAJUEL COULING, RICKMANSWORTH, HERTS.
M R. NICHOL has not included the writings of Christopher Ness in his
M scheme for the publication of the works of standard divines ; and yet few works merit republication more than those of Ness. For, apart from the immense number of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin quotations, and the general roughness of style and imperfect punctuation, the works of Ness are full of gospel truth, conveyed in a quaint and unctuous manner that cannot fail in interesting and profiting the children of God.
About Christopher Ness himself very little is known. He was born on the 26th of December, 1621, at North Cave, in the East Riding of Yorkshire. At sixteen years of age he was sent to St. John's College, Cambridge. Here he remained for about seven years, when, upon the breaking out of the civil wars, he retired into the country, and commenced preaching at Cliffe Chapel, under the auspices of an uncle of his who was at that time vicar of North Care. Shortly after this he received a call to Holderness, and a few years later to Beverley, where he spent his time in instructing some youths and in preaching occasionally. In 1650 he succeeded Dr. Winter in the living of Cottenham, near Hull, worth about four hundred pounds per annum. The Lord greatly blessed his labours here to the conversion of many souls, as was also the case at Leeds, to which place he afterwards removed. He does not, however, appear to have been very comfortable here, as a great portion of his work seems to have been to preach in the evening against the doctrines advocated by his colleague from the saine pulpit in the morning. On Black Bartholomew day, 1662, Mr. Ness was ejected from the Establishment on account of his Nonconformity. When the “ Five Mile Act” was passed he removed first to Clayton, and afterwards to Morley, and preached privately as he found opportunitv. Upon the times growing more favourable, he took a house of his own at Hunslet. and converted a large riding house into a place of worship, and preached to large congregations. For this offence be was four times excommunicated; and his enemies being at length wearied out by his perseverance, they issued a writ de excommunicatio capiendo, to avoid which he removed to London. Here for thirty years he preached privately to a congregation of Protestant disseuters in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street. He died December 26th, 1705, aged eighty-four to the very day. His remains were interred in Bunhill Fields' belial-ground, but no stone is there to mark the spot.
Of his works, I have a list of twenty now before me published between 1676 and 1700. Many of these are but small pamphlets; and, adopting the style of the times in which he lived, some of them have very quaint titles, although, perhaps, none of them equal to the following old work which I discovered á short time siuce:-“ Some fine Baskets Baked in the Oven of Charity, Care. fully Conserved for the Chickens of the Church, the Sparrows of the Spirit, and the Sweet Swallows of Salvation.” Notwithstanding all their oddities, how. ever, these old divines were champions of the truth, and knew well how to defend it against the encroachment of error. Of Ness's works, all of which are valuable, and now very scarce, the most important are “ The History and Mystery of the Old and New Testament,” in four volumes, folio; and “The Antidote against Arminianism." Of the former, it is said that Matthew Henry availed himself greatly when composing his “ Exposition ;" and of the latter, Ness himself says, “This little book hath cost me great study, many ardent prayers, and many earnest wrestlings with God.” This little work has been reprinted by two different persons. In 1819 the Rev. John Andrews Jones (then of Stonehouse) issued a small volume containing “ Ness's Antidote, with Corrections and Emendations." This soon ran through six editions, when, in