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The Lagos Steamer going to fetch the English Mail. (Prontispiece).
The Murchison Falls on the White Nile
People of Unyoro, Eastern Africa
View near Lake of St. Agnes, Canada
CHURCH MISSIONARY GLEANER.
“Along the whole coast of the Bight of Benin, as well as on the rest of the western coast of Africa, wherever there are no harbours or bays, a heavy swell sets in from the sea, rolling the immense body of water onward to the land, where it breaks on the beach in one continuous line of dangerous surf, with a monotonous boom, broken, at times, by powerful thuds.
This varies in force at various places; but, in all, accidents—many fatal—have taken place. At Whydah it is very strong; a little less so at Badagry ; Quittah is perhaps the least so, or at the village of Lilly Coffy, to the southward. The heavy swell setting in to the land, and meeting with the rapid current of the waters of the Lagos river, rushing to discharge themselves in an opposite direction, has caused a huge bar of sand to be drawn across, and at some distance from the mouth of the river, over which the sea dashes in a fearful surf, again breaking at uncertain times and distances between this and the shore. Boats pass round the eastern extremity of this bar, where it ceases gradually and imperceptibly, and, if necessary, pull up between it and the sandy beach; and then, crossing a lesser bar, are immediately at the mouth, and enter the river. It will thus be seen that the river Lagos is only practicable for canoes or boats, or small steamers, and this not without difficulty and even hazard.”
Such is the description of the surf and bar at Lagos, which was drawn up by the late Dr. Irving, R.N., and published in the “Church Missionary Intelligencer” for June 1853.
How necessary it is that the navigator who would bring his ship safely into harbour should make himself acquainted with the tides and currents of the seas through which he sails, and the peculiar action of the winds, that he may know how to avoid difficulties, and avail himself of
every favourable circumstance which may help to secure a favourable issue to his voyage. And this may be done. The winds and the waves are coming to be “so well understood, that the navigator, like the backwoodsman in the wilderness, is enabled literally to “ blaze his way across the ocean ; not, indeed, upon trees, as in the wilderness, but upon the wings of the wind. The results of scientific discoveries have so taught him how to use those invisible carriers that they, with the calm belts of the air, serve as sign-boards to indicate to him the turnings, and forks, and crossings by the way.” There are wind and current charts, which need to be attentively studied. There are sailing directions, the results of varied observations and experiences, which the shipmaster should be careful to follow. They tell him, when in the dolldrums the wind fails, which course he had best pursue to recover it speedily.
And are we not, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, pursuing our course over the waves of this troublesome world, and making for the January, 1867.
haven of everlasting rest ? Are we engaged in any enterprise for God? Would we desire to bring it to a successful issue ? Shall there be no difficulties to contend with, no deceitful currents, no baffling winds ? Are there no records of experiences to which we can refer ? no book of sailing directions by which we may steer our course? Are favourable winds necessary to the sailing ship, and is the blessing of God less needful to us? Does it seem to have failed us, and do we lie becalmed, and are we not told how we may recover it? Is not prayer resource of the Christian ? Perhaps we are stationary; we seem to make no progress. Let us wait on the Lord in prayer, and we shall find that the pause in which we find ourselves is only as the calm the ship meets with as she passes from one system of trade winds to another.
Are there dangers in the wide sea through which the sailor is passing, and yet are there no warnings by which he may be guided? Are 'there no coral reefs and shoals which he knows not of? but mark the warning cloud which hangs over them. Every navigator who has cruised in the trade-wind region of the Pacific “has often turned with wonder and delight to admire the gorgeous piles of cumuli heaped up and arranged in the most delicate and exquisitely-beautiful manner that it is possible for fleecy matter to assume. Not only are these piles found capping the hills among the islands, but they are often seen to overhang the lowest islet of the tropics, and even to stand above coral patches and hidden reefs, a cloud by day to serve as a beacon to the lonely mariner.” Gathered about the low coral island, they are preparing it for vegetation and fruitfulness. “As they are condensed into showers, one fancies that they are a sponge of the most exquisite and delicately-elaborated material, and that he can see, as they drop down fatness, the invisible but bountiful hand aloft that is pressing and squeezing it out." And if
, in our Christian course, there be dangers, how plain are not our sailing directions ! what providential warnings are afforded us ! what encouragements to trust in the Lord ! what assurances that He will not fail us !
And when we have reached the termination of our course, when the shore is near on which we wish to land, shall we be alarmed at the surf which breaks upon the bar ? Shall we distrust Him who has guided us thus far? Shall we not entrust urselves with confidence to the Lord's promise, and say with Paul, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day ?”
Let the new year commence with prayer, and day by day 'let that prayer continue to be offered ; then, whether we live to see its end, or die beforehand, the issue shall be what the Lord wishes and therefore what we desire.
In this Number will be found a prayer, drawn up by one who takes a deep interest in the work of the Missions, and which our readers may find suitable and helpful.