‘Go, bear the Saviour’s name to lands unknown’

Posted on January 23, 2015 
Filed under History, Resources

The Rev. Richard JohnsonThis Australia Day long weekend, it’s a good time to bring the people of Australia before our heavenly Father in prayer.

Even before European settlement, the inhabitants of “lands unknown” were in the prayers of men and women like John Newton.

On 8th July 1777, Newton wrote this in his diary –

“My leisure time and rather more than I can well spare taken up with reading the accounts of the late voyage of Capt. Cook in the Southern Ocean and round the Globe.

Teach me to see thy hand and read thy name in these relations. Thy providence and goodness are displayed in every clime. May I be suitably affected with the case of the countless thousands of my fellow creatures, who know thee not, nor have opportunities of knowing thee.

Alas that those who are called Christians, and who venture through the greatest dangers to explore unknown regions, should only impart to the inhabitants examples of sin and occasions of mischief, and communicate nothing of thy Gospel to them. Lord hast thou not a time for these poor benighted souls, when thou wilt arise and shine upon them?”

(Special thanks to Marylynn Rouse of The John Newton Project, who transcribed this entry from Newton’s diary.)

Part of the answer to John Newton’s prayer was the Rev Richard Johnson (pictured), who sailed, in May 1787, on the First Fleet as the first Chaplain to the Colony to be established at Botany Bay.

Newton wrote to Johnson –

“Go, bear the Saviour’s name to lands unknown,
Tell to the southern world his wondrous grace;
And energy Divine thy words shall own
And draw their untaught hearts to seek his face.”

So let’s give thanks for Richard and Mary Johnson, and for those who sent them – and be committed afresh to “bearing the Saviour’s name” to all in our land.

Related: Richard Johnson’s An Address To The Inhabitants Of The Colonies
Established in New South Wales And Norfolk Island (pdf).