Richard Johnson’s call

missionary spirit
In the evening of the 23rd September 1786, I was asked by a friend, if I had got the spirit of a missionary, or, if I wished to go abroad. I smiled, and replied – No – I had no inclination or thoughts of ever leaving my native country.
On the 30th of the same month, I received a letter from another friend, informing me that a colony was going to be established in New Holland, or New Zealand – that a chaplain was wanted – that application had been made to him, to know whether he knew of any proper person for and willing to undertake such an arduous work – and that if I chose to accept of, he could secure me the appointment.
The feelings, which I had upon receiving this letter and for a time after, are easier felt than described. For several nights and days both my sleep and appetite were in a great measure taken away. I did little else than weep and sigh, whilst I trust both by fervent prayer and fasting, I implored divine direction what to do in an affair of so weighty moment. On the one hand – the idea of leaving my parents, relations, friends and the respectful connections which I had formed – the dangers of the sea – the description of people I was going with – the place to which we were going, to the very ends of the earth – to a country wild and uncultivated – to be exposed to savages, and perhaps to various wild beasts of prey – Those, and such like ideas so impressed my mind with fear and terror, that I sometimes was greatly indisposed, and almost resolved to decline the offer. But then on the other hand – when I considered – the propriety – nay, the necessity of some person going out in this capacity – how the offer of the appointment was made to me – my situation at that time, having no charge of my own – the hopes and prospects of being rendered useful in the reformation of those poor and abandoned people – the power and promises of God to protect me in any place or situation wherein, in the line of duty, I followed the leading of Providence – and the prospects of a glorious reward hereafter, laid up in Heaven for all God’s faithful servants and people – these considerations overbalanced and removed all my scruples and fears, and induced me to give my free consent to enter upon this hazardous expedition.
I then, by the advice and direction of my friends, waited on his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury upon this affair, who was pleased, in a most respectful and condescending[obliging] manner, not only to give me his sanction, but also to wish me success equal to my wishes in so arduous, important, and dangerous an undertaking.
Lambeth Palace Library, Moore1, f.16

Marylynn Rouse, 21/01/2019