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The Martyres of Blantyre
Chapter VII. Conclusion


Thus they died at their posts,—three good men and true,—and the world is the poorer for their loss; but, though dead, Henderson, Bowie, and Cleland still speak to us. When the Angel of Death had folded his wings, that was a sadly stricken community over which he had passed. Blantyre was left almost a wreck of its former self—“almost a mission skeleton of three lonely house-occupants at the three corners of the place,”—a few brave hearts strained almost to the breaking. Yet they never gave way, and out of their very need came a voice whose appeal reached the heart of the Church at home. It is the day of battle which calls forth the soldier spirit, and we do not wonder that the story of courage, endurance, and death, instead of deterring, should awake a spirit of chivalry and call forth offer after offer to go and occupy the vacant posts. The Church had hardly time to record her sorrow over the fallen, and to thank God for the work they had done, ere she was laying hands of benediction on others going forth to take up the work that had fallen from their hands. Already five new missionaries have gone to join the staff of the Mission, and no better wish could be offered as we bid them “God speed” than that they may catch something of the spirit of those whom they have gone to succeed.

A widespread desire has been expressed that some fitting memorial should be found to cherish the memory of those who, in Blantyre, laid down their lives in the service of Christ, and it is felt that the true memorial must be something which will help to perpetuate their spirit and continue their work. It has, therefore, been proposed that a Cleland Memorial Church should one day be erected on Mount Milanje,— where Robert Cleland so fearlessly and laboriously laid the foundations of a Christian Mission. In Blantyre, too, there will surely be ere long a Bowie Hospital— such an hospital as Dr. Bowie longed for—where the loving, patient, skilful care with which he tended his poor black patients may be continued by others, labouring, like him, for Christs sake. Then on the River Shir6 there is to be—and very soon, we hope— a Mission Steamer bearing the name of Henry Henderson, which, like the pioneer missionary himself, will in future go down to meet the outgoing mission-party at the coast, and conduct them up the river to their field of labour; only doing it with a speed, health, and comfort unknown in former days. It will also overcome the difficulties in the way of evangelizing those river tribes, whose chiefs and villages are praying us to come to them, but whose home is where the European may not dwell, and whom, therefore, only a Mission Steamer, with a man of the Cleland stamp in charge of it, can effectually reach.

Such monuments are proposed, and doubtless there are many who will count it a privilege to have a share in providing them. Worthy memorials they will be of three such lives, for they will secure the continuance of the work done by those whose names they bear. But, after all, these will be but tools, and their worth as memorials will depend on the kind of men who use them. In the little missionary band now holding the field in Central Africa there are to-day as brave hearts and true as any that are gone. But they are sorely in need of help, and they appeal to us for it. The burden is too heavy,—the work is too much,—the possibilities are too great for them to bear alone; and the voice of the living and the memory of the dead alike cry to us,—“Pray ye the Lord of the harvest that He would send forth more labourers into the harvest.” There is no field in the world where consecrated men and women, are more needed, or in which they can better invest loving service for Jesus’ sake. This is the true memorial which the Church must raise to lives like these—men and women cherishing their memory, breathing their spirit, following in their footsteps—to render, through the Church and the Hospital and the Mission Steamer, loving Christ-like service to the poor dark children of Africa. Will the Church at home furnish these? In closing the book which tells the story of those Martyrs of Blantyre, may one venture to wonder whether among those who may read that story there may not be some one who will hear in it a call to self-consecration—some one who, giving himself to God and to Africa, may one day bring to the Mission the watchful care of a Henderson, the heroic devotion and skill of a Bowie, or the consecrated enthusiasm and labour of a Cleland? The Lord grant it in His time!


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