January 1, 1861
The first of January 1861 was a New Year’s Day ever to be remembered. Mr. And Mrs. Johnston, Abraham and I, had spent nearly the whole time in a kind of solemn, yet happy festival. Anew in a holy covenant before God, we unitedly consecrated our lives and our all to the Lord Jesus, giving ourselves away to His blessed service for the conversion of the Heathen of the New Hebrides. After evening family worship, Mr. And Mrs. Johntson left my room to go to their own house, only some ten feet distant; but he returned to inform me that there were two men at the window, armed with huge clubs and having black painted faces. Going out to them and asking them what they wanted, they replied, “Medicine for a sick boy.”
With difficulty, I persuaded them to come in and get it. At once, it flashed upon me, from their agitation and their disguise of paint, that they has come to murder us. Mr. Johntson had also accompanied us into the house. Keeping my eye constantly fixed on them; I prepared the medicine and offered it. They refused to receive it, and each man grasped his killing stone. I faced them firmly and said, “You see that Mr. Johnston is now leaving, and you must too leave this room for tonight. To-morrow, you can bring the boy or come for the medicine.”
Seizing their clubs, as if for action, they showed unwillingness to withdraw, but I walked deliberately forward and made as if to push them out, when both turned and began to leave.
Mr. Johnston had gone in front of them and was safely out. But he bent down to lift up a little kitten that had escaped at the open door; and at that moment one of the Savages, jerking in behind, aimed a blow with his huge club, in avoiding which Mr. Johnston fell with a scream to the ground. Both men sprang towards him, but our two faithful dogs ferociously leapt in their faces and saved his life. Rushing out, but not fully aware of what had occurred, I saw Mr. Johnston trying to raise himself, and heard him cry, “Take care! These men have tried to kill me and they will try to kill you!”
Facing them sternly I demanded, “What do you want? He does not speak your language. What do you want? Speak with me.”
Both men, thereon, raised their great clubs and made to strike me; but as quickly as lightening these two dogs sprang at their faces and baffled their blows. One dog was badly bruised, and the ground received the other blow, that would have launched me into eternity. The best dog was a little cross bred retriever, with terrier’s blood in him, splendid for warning us of approaching dangers which had already been the means of saving my life many times. Seeing how matters stood, I now hounded both dogs furiously upon them, and the two savages fled. I shouted after them, “Remember, Jehovah God sees you and will punish you for trying to murder His servants!”
In their flight a large body of men, who had come eight or ten miles to assist in the murder and plunder, came slipping here and there from the bush and joined them, fleeing too. Verily, “the wicked flee when no man persueth.” David’s experience and assurance came home to us, that evening, as very real; – “God is our refuge and our strength, therefore we will not fear.” But, after the danger was all past, I had always a strange feeling of fear, more perhaps from the thought that I had been on the verge of eternity and so near the great White Throne that from any slavish fear. During the crisis, I felt generally calm, and firm of soul, standing erect and with my whole weight on the promise, “Lo, I am with you always.” Precious promise! How often I adore Jesus for it, and rejoice in it! Blessed be His name.