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Lucea, Hampden, and St. Mary

[Historial narrative section by the editor of the Memoir:]

About the time of his arrival in the island, the congregation at Lucea, in connection with the United Secession Presbytery, had been deprived temporarily of the ministrations of their pastor, Mr. Watson, who was deputed to visit the United States. Mr Callender was requested to undertake the charge of this congregation, and unwilling as he was to be idle, encouraged too by a partial amendment in his own health, he readily consented. His engagement began about March 1847, and continued for some months. During that period his labours were incessant and abundant, and by the concurrent testimony of multitudes, they were crowned with signal success. A detail of those labours would be impracticable, and is scarcely requisite, as extracts from some of his letters, and from the journal which he regularly kept, will suffice to give a tolerably correct idea of their nature. From those which we shall quote, it will be seen, that besides his stated pulpit ministrations, his other engagements were multifarious and fatiguing, involving the visitation of families, the superintendence of schools, both Sabbath and week day, addresses without number at prayer and other meetings, and even open air preaching, accompanied with excessive toil, and exposure to the most inclement weather. No frame however robust, could have endured with impunity such complicated and harassing toils. It will also be seen from these extracts, extracts, it must be remembered, written without any view to publication, what was the temper of his own mind, what were the feelings in obedience to which his trials were undergone, what was the nature of the message he everywhere delivered, as ambassador of heaven, and what was the habitual stay of his soul in trouble, its neverfailing consolation when downcast. And it must not also be lost sight of, that besides being zealous in his labours, he was faithful to his trust, jealous for the honour of God, as well as earnest for the salvation of man, fearless in the inculcation of duty, as well as in the call to repentance, and never shrinking from the painful task of showing to the deluded sinner the insecurity of his prop, and driving him from his refuges of lies.

His journal was written with evident haste, and during intervals snatched from almost continuous toil. He never corrected or embellished his jottings, and therefore polish of style is not to be expected. Nor is it perhaps desirable. The journal, as we find it, is simply a faithful record of his daily actions and daily thoughts; his emotions were transferred to paper, on the impulse of the moment, and with little thought of their ever seeing the light. The jottings, therefore, constituting his journal, present a faithful delineation of his own character, as his pulpit discourses offer a fair specimen of his talent.

Our extracts shall commence from soon after his arrival in Jamaica, as we are desirous of shewing how little time was lost in inactivity, and how rapidly and diligently he began labouring wherever his services were required. [end of historical narrative. Resume journal]

"In my last notes, I informed you of my arrival at Hampden Trelawney, where Rev. George Blyth lives and labours. There I arrived on Saturday, 2d. January 1847. At Mr Blyth's request, preached on Sabbath forenoon the new year's sermon, and in the afternoon, addressed his large Sabbath school on the subject of missions-it being the anniversary of their missionary society. In the forenoon 1 was introduced by Mr Blyth, and, on rising, reminded the congregation of the new year custom of wishing happiness to each other. As a stranger, and yet a brother in Christ, I felt that it was but right to salute them on this the first occasion on which I had met them, and the first Sabbath of a new year, in the words of an apostle, and with the feeling of a christian brother, --'May the peace or happiness of God rule in your hearts.' That they might know my meaning, and perhaps learn somewhat of the way to attain to spiritual peace and prosperity, I requested their attention to a few remarks on the text, 'To be spiritually minded is life and peace.' The congregation was large, about eight or nine hundred, and attentive throughout. With what mingled feelings of delight, and bewilderment, and trembling, did I then address my first black and coloured audience! Not less interesting was the meeting with the children in the afternoon. Happening to tell them that it was only a few days before leaving my native land, I had attended a similar meeting of children,-a missionary meeting it was,-and that then my heart had thrilled as their sweet infant voices lisped the hymn of missionary motive, and sympathy, and effort, 'From Greenland's icy mountains,' &c, they resolved, at Mr Blyth's suggestion, to greet me with the same song, and that song of the whites at home was echoed in my ear as sweetly and livelily by the free blacks of this Western Isle. 'Twas a moment of no little interest; as I gazed at the youthful singers, and remembered who they were, and what they might have been, I could scarce refrain from exclaiming 'What hath the Lord wrought;' yea, what hath the Lord wrought.

"Monday, 18th Jan. 1847.-Bade adieu to Hampden friends, in whose society I felt at home, and to whose kindness I was deeply indebted, and set out for Carron Hall on horseback, in company with Mr Cowan and Mr Simpson of Port Maria, We had a long and weary ride of sixty odd miles to Goshen, where Mr Campbell has just arrived as successor to Mr Jameson. The scenery around is that of mountain grandeur, along with rank luxuriance; not a patch of bare rock being visible. Every spot of soil is productive; and even the mountain sides, where wood could not grow, were yet clad magnificently, gorgeously attired, indeed, with numberless parasitical plants. I was struck, however, in passing over so great an extent of country, to find that neither fragrance nor the music of singing birds characterized it. It seemed to illustrate forcibly the truth, that nature's gifts and graces are not characterized by an exclusive favoritism. There is distribution most wisely exercised by the God of nature. Seldom do we find fertility and fragrance, beauty and melody, and I may say native productiveness, and scientific ingenuity, or human activity combined. Jamaica possesses the shady palm and cocoa tree, the delicately tinted flower, the beautifully feathered bird; it wants, however the sturdy oak, the sweetly blooming rose whose odoriferous perfume every breath that blows scatters around, the loud and bold chorus of lark and blackbird in Scotland. Its waving bamboos and rich grasses may sprout up in a day, (some of them, I believe, growing at the rate of six inches aday,) but they who sit under their shade listlessly idle away their hours in indifference and inactivity. In the climate, however, there is much adapted to the wants it creates in man. When travelling, wayworn and thirsty, the very sight of the lime, lemon, and orange groves, the cocoa walks, &c., is refreshing; and more than once we dismounted at some green knoll to rest ourselves under some shady bush, and revive our drooping frames by a crust of bread and orange juice, or sugar cane. To sit under some lofty cedar, or spreading tamarind, or breadfruit tree, is especially delightful, more particularly under the first; for its shade is not only reviving, but there is a sweet scent exhaled from its blossoms; and when the head is slightly fevered from exposure to a midday tropical sun, its leaves applied to the forehead are cooling indeed. Somehow or other, certain scripture phrases were then ever running in my mind as illustrated more fully by the circumstances of the journey, viz., 'The leaves that were for the healing of the nations,' with 'their whole head sick, and heart faint,' the 'water-brook' and 'course' thirsted after 'rivers of waters in dry and parched lands; wells in the desert,' 'wells without water,' 'wells of salvation.'

"The night dews are heavy and disagreeable. Were it not for this, night, with such clear moonlight as we have here, would be the best time for travelling."

"Carron Hall, Sat. 15th Feb. 1847.-Very wet morning-service necessarily delayed for some hours--preached for Mr Cowan all day. On Friday had an opportunity of conversing with, and catechising the old people of the congregation-all native Africans. One or two of the simpler and leading doctrines of the gospel they understood; still with them superstition is mixed with faith, and requires long labour to get it weeded out of their mind. It is a false idea many entertain that missionary work is more rapid than home work. The same slow progress is made ; the same hard heart of unbelief opposes the missionary as the minister; the same groundwork has to be laid, ere faith can live and actuate, viz., of that knowledge without which conversion is impossible, faith a delusion, christianity nothing but a name. The operation of the Spirit of God is every where similar, and the African must be dealt with in the same fashion as the European, the Indian as the Englishman. The gospel must not only be heard by him, but known by him, ere it be believe by him, for though faith may be short of knowledge, it never can go beyond it; if it does, it becomes fancy, superstition. Here is the great mistake committed by the Baptists and Wesleyans : the slaves, impelled by feelings of gratitude towards them as their friends in their bondage, offered to do, and did any thing their leaders pleased. It was, however, but the impulse of feeling, not the dictate of christian principle, or the decision of a well judging knowledge; and now that that feeling is wearing off, the Baptists find themselves left with but few adherents. Their people, ignorant of christian truth, and unguided by christian principle, have fallen, and are falling back from them. I was highly pleased with the Sabbath schools, both for children and adults."

"March 4. 1847, Mount Zion, Cornwall.-Yesterday I visited, with Mr Waddell, the school at Rosehill, near this, and thence proceeded with him to Hampden, with the view of persuading Mr. Blyth to accept of his appointment to proceed to America. I here attended a prayer meeting of blacks, and expounded to them, so far as I could, Col., 3d chapter, as exhibitory of christian duty and motive. A black elder closed with prayer! Many of his expressions struck me as beautiful. Thus, e. g. in speaking of God seeing the secrets of the heart, he said, 'We be met at night time, and we not able to see any ding in de dark, but dere be no night in de heart, all be day before God.' Before coming here today, two sad scenes awaited me-the farewell with Mr Waddell and the Blyths. Ere parting, Mr Blyth remarked that we were now about to part; it might be for years, it might be for ever on earth as respected those of us then met. He thought we should separate from each other at the throne of grace, commending ourselves to our one Father. He asked me to be our mouthpiece. It was a season to all of us of no little trial, and yet I trust of much comfort. With but few words, and not dry eyes, or unmoved hearts, Mr Waddell and myself hurried from the scene, and for an hour proceeded silent and sad. I too had to part from him, as he proceeded back to the bay, while I was elsewhere bound. We had much of sweet intercourse together, and for my own part, I had learned to love him as a friend, an adviser, a brother. We parted commending each other to him, whose name is 'Jehovah Shammah.' Solitary and sad I proceeded to Goodwill on my way to this, with the view of visiting Mr. ------, a fellow passenger in the 'Catherine,' who came out for his health, and who was, I had heard, gradually sinking under disease. I was shewn into his bedroom, and found him emaciated, and fevered, feeble in his utterance, languid in his eye, and, I feared, doubtful in mind. I entered into conversation with him on spiritual matters, but could not arrive at his state of mind. He seemed reluctant to speak frankly, and seeing him exhausted, I was obliged to leave him, promising, however, to call on him again on Monday. But now I must meanwhile close. Perhaps you may be expecting me to state my opinion of the climate, character of the people, &c., more generally. It is, however, hardly time yet for forming any thing like an accurate opinion thereon. The first thing in respect of climate, undoubtedly, is its pleasant, unvarying character ; in respect of natural scenery, its rank luxuriance; and in respect of the people, their having so much to say, so little to do, and their ignorance and shamefacedness. Slavery has indeed proved most debasing to the blacks. It will be the work of long and weary years to elevate them from the kind of idiocy into which they have been sunk. Even the best informed among them read but imperfectly and indistinctly. Still the gospel has done much for them, and elevated not a few to the liberty of Christ's people. It is, however, a sad mistake to imagine that the work is any thing like done in the island. The fact is, it is little more than begun ; and if there was a time more than another in which the Presbyterian missions in the island require to be well supported it is now, when Baptists and Congregationalists are throwing up their stations, and Wesleyans doing but little good. Presbytery is seen by many to be in its principles the soundest, and is more favourably regarded in high quarters. The principle on which Presbyterians, and they alone, are patiently acting, is, 'Impart knowledge before you expect faith--enlarge knowledge, that you may reap larger fruits of faith.' 'Tis nonsense to harangue an audience from the pulpit on a subject they do not understand, in a language with which which they are but imperfectly acquainted. Every Presbyterian testifies that their preaching is useless to them to whose minds they have had no previous access in the Sabbath day or week day class. Their testimony accords with the natural deductions of reason."

"10th April 1847.-I have just received information of your returned indisposition,[addressed to his grandfather] and know not how or what to write. Oh that I, too, could have visited your sickroom, and sat by your side. Indeed. I know not what to think or do. The call of duty to me, at present especially, seems to be to remain at my present post; the impulse of my inclination and feelings is to step on board the vessel yonder which sails tomorrow, and return to my 'father's' house. Indeed! indeed! were it not that the indication of the Divine will at present seems to be opposed to my immediate departure, I should come. There is, however, great scarcity of supply at the mission stations at present; and as you will know by this time, I have been requested to take charge, and am in actual charge of the Lucea stations. It would seem as if God himself had said that 'the master hath need of him ;' and I cannot, I dare not, decline the duty even although my own strength is not great, and my own feelings are elsewhere. . . . .

[remarks to his family]

. . . It is probable that I cannot interest you more, in my present communication, than by continuing my notes, simple and hurried though they be, of that work of the Lord which is carried on in Jamaica. It may, perhaps, cause you still more fervently to rejoice in him, whose 'right it is to reign,' and who shall yet bear all the glory, and who makes all things work together for good to his Church, and for good to mankind. I will therefore now resume from the date at which 1 left off."

"Wednesday, 10th March 1847.-Rode over from Cornwall to Goodwill, according to my promise, to see my fellow passenger, -- --, whom I had left on the previous week in fever, and apparently sinking under pulmonary disease. When I arrived, he was gone! dust had been returned to dust; and the only trace I found of him was the spot where he had been buried; and ah, whatever contention, and grief, and care may elsewhere fill the home and heart of man, all was peace and silence there. . . . Startingly sudden is the progress of disease and decay in the island. He died on Monday, and on Tuesday he was beneath the clods of the Great Valley, where, as a lonely wanderer, he for a season sojourned; he now sleeps the sleep of death, till the Conqueror come to awake his friends out of their sleep."

"Thursday.-Rode to Hampden to be present at the examination of the congregational school under the care of Mr Drummond, the catechist, stationed there under Mr Blyth. There were 150 children present, and examined. The whole proceedings were exceedingly interesting, and would bear comparison with many of our home schools. Where is the much talked of theory of inferiority in the negro intellect? Certainly here there was abundant evidence of the very contrary -of complete mental parity in the negro with the white."

"Sabbath, 14th April 1847Hampden.-Today exchanged with Mr Blyth, who supplied for me at Cornwall, where I had engaged to be today. Both forenoon and afternoon there was a very crowded church; about 1100. The whole number connected with this church is, by Mr Blyth's books, about 2500. A collection was made in forenoon for the Cayman mission; £14 sterling were obtained. Between sermons, had an exceedingly interesting conversation with two native Africans-' We no know any ting,' said one of them to, me, 'before free, we blind;' 'slavery keep we dark, dark;' 'den de heart be slave too, even after free; de heart be slave, slave to sin.' 'Before free, (i.e. freedom,) we took minister and bible for comfort.' 'We very dark; only see Christ with old man's eyes; only we glimpse him now and den.' 'Gospel preached,' said the other, 'make we heart too glad; make we heart too sick.' 'Massa, massa, me no know life in Christ,' (I had been preaching on that subject,) ,as me would;' 'me no love him, heart too bad;' 'me no serve him.' By the bye, on Saturday, a very intelligent member saw me, as he passed, very busy, and giving me good day, he rather waggishly asked me, 'Mending nets, massa? hey! nets to catch men ?' He was right,-I was; and know not whether to say, with the fishermen of old, that 'I toiled all day and caught nothing.'

"On Saturday went to visit Bellevue, Mr Anderson's (Dr Heugh's) station, and was there on Sabbath, 21st March. 1847, when I preached all day for Mr P. Anderson. Owing to the wetness of the day had but a thin house; and besides, Mr A.'s congregation is awkwardly divided, one half being about eight miles distant, and one half here, so that he preaches at Orange Valley and Bellevue alternately. Had a good deal of very pleasant intercourse with Mr A. on subjects of both speculative and practical interest; especially on what both of us experienced of the danger of neglecting practical piety ourselves, while enforcing it on others. It is, indeed, an indescribably woeful and bitter exclamation-'My own vineyard I have not kept.' Bellevue is on a delightful eminence, overlooking the seaport and ocean. Just as we were preparing to go down to the church, my attention was drawn to a vessel off the coast, with all her sails set, but not a breath of wind to fill them. Mr Anderson immediately reverted to what had been subject of conversation some little time before, viz., the breath of spiritual influence necessary to make the word effectual to the life of the dry bones. 'You see,' said he, 'the illustration there. It is needless for you to waste your breath today, unless we get the wind to breathe, and put in motion the dead men-dead as that, motionless log on the surface of the water.' In the evening, at family worship, was amused a little with the answers of a poor old ignorant African to the questions put to him about the sermons of the day 'What have you heard today, John?' 'All good,' was John's reply.' 'What good have ye heard?' 'No bad at all, massa, all very good.' 'Do ye remember any good?' 'Me old, can't read, can't remember. Believe what book say?' Will what you have heard today do you any good during the week?' 'Yes, massa, me can't say, but it do good here, good here;' (pointing to his heart;) 'good inside, massa.' 'What good will it do you ?' 'Keep heart in fear, and keep out of bad; keep me right.'

15th March 1847.After the meeting I retired to the house of William Dewar, Esq., which I was invited always to regard as my Montego Bay home; and shortly after we were housed a storm began, fearful and glorious. Here I may say that, abuse, as folks may, the climate of Britain, it is yet unequalled in its picturesque and agreeable variety. I have stood 'neath the deep blue sky of Italy, many a time longing more for a cloud than ever for sunshine at home, and not even the hand's breadth film of vapour came to relieve the monotonous bright and blue, or to cast even a shadow on the ground; and here, beneath a western burning midday radiance, I have panted for days for a refreshing shower, or softening mist, while not a drop has fallen to wet even the stones in the dry river's course, or revive the scorched leaves of the drooping palm or banana; while all the time Britain has its gladsome mediate variety of sunshine and cloud, and its vegetation now glittering with rain drops, or sparkling with sunbeams. There is, it is true, a blaze of glory and of power in these sunnied scenes unknown in the northern isles, but there is nothing like the soft silvery light, which, in the latter, steals o'er both hill and valley, and sheds a delicateness of hue and of beauty over wood and water, field and flowers. When there is a change here, it is generally to an extreme; and as it never is sunshine, but it is scorching, so it is never showery, but it is submerging. Of a truth, it never rains here, but pours bucketful fashion. The sun had just set, with all the suddenness and grandeur of a plunge beneath the horizon, and we were instantaneously in darkness-darkness almost felt, owing to the lurid blackness of the clouds that were, as it were, hurrying to their posts in the firmament, preparatory to the strife. (By the bye there is nothing charming in a tropical sunset, nothing at least that can compensate for the calm halfhour of waning glory enjoyed by you.) The storm soon began. The first symptom of the elemental war was the blinding flash, and a discharge of thunderpeals, that seemed to shake the very house ; and now our voices were scarcely audible to each other, as the rain beat furiously, (here only does one understand the meaning of rain so beating), on the shingled roofs. Flash followed flash, brighter than the lights upon our table, and peal succeeded peal, almost unintermittently, and the rain came down, as if in ire at its being so long held back. My eye was on the window, when suddenly the dense mass of a cocoa nut tree's top of leaves and fruit was in a blaze (these trees attract the fluid more than any other), and spite of rain enough to extinguish any common fire, it burned till its whole head was one crown of fire-there, as if in mockery of the rain's utmost power. The scene was truly a fearful one ; nor did the fire cease till nothing but the bare and blighted stalk was left . We stood in utter bewilderment, breathlessly waiting for the issue, and fearing that it would be communicated to the whole row of trees, and from them to the wood huts around. The rain, however, was of avail, and the fire extinguished, and the storm shortly quieted; and we approached the family altar, subdued in spirit, and grateful in heart, to adore him, whose power we had seen in these partial manifestations. In the morning the sun rose bright and beautiful, as is its wont; but yonder the headless, lifeless tree stood, black and blighted, a monument of the powers and fury of the storm. It was well replied by a negro, during the storm, to his master, as, listening to the storm, he remarked 'there go the great guns.' 'Yes, massa., dese be God's great guns; dere be one hand only able to work dem.' (God's own.")

"Lucea, 28th March 1847 Today is Sabbath; and, after being introduced to the congregation by our brother Mr Watson, I addressed the congregation, and filled up the forenoon service. In the evening, Mr Watson bade farewell to his people for a season, and, after addressing to them some few counsels, commended them to God, to the word of his grace, and to my charge. The congregation was deeply affected by his solemn statements; and no few symptoms of the ardent attachment to their pastor stood in their eyes. I trust the impression may be a lasting one, and that this may prove to many a day of days to be gratefully remembered. After service we met with the elders and deacons, to all of whom I was formally introduced, and arrangements entered into for the right management of the affairs of the congregation during his absence.

"On Monday both Mr Watson and myself had hard work of it, he in parting, and I in receiving the scores of his people, who came to bid goodbye, and to say Godspeed to their minister, and 'how d'ye' to the new parson. In the evening, Mr Watson, after family worship, left us on his way to Kingston and America. May his Master and mine be with us both to protect and assist us. 1 feel my need of higher wisdom and strength than mine own for the work assigned me here."


Callender Memoirs, Part 3

Photograph of Thomas Callender

Sermon 1 of Thomas Callender

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