He Travelled Along the Bay of Quinte and Did Fine Service -
He Much Disliked Dissenters and Would Have no Intercourse With Them
Church Evangelist, Toronto
Rev. John Langhorn, second missionary (Mr. Stuart was the first) was a Welshman, educated at St. Bess. He arrived at Kingston on the last day of September 1778. After long waiting at Quebec he was only able to get passage on a sloop carrying government stores; amongst others 100 barrels of gunpowder. No fire, therefore, could be allowed on board. They ran aground in the river, and were twelve days in reaching Montreal; from Montreal he had to walk to Lachine, thence up the river sometimes on foot and sometimes in an open boat. The first night he slept in a hay mow, another night on a bare floor without covering, another night had his abode in the woods, but he could not lie down as it rained hard. And so on, day after day, till he reached Kingston. He was at once appointed missionary on the Bay of Quinte, where about 1,500 people were now living. Four-fifths of these were of nine or ten different denominations. These were scattered over a country of forty miles square. He had about ten different congregations, which he visited regularly on foot. He never kept a horse, he used to sling his surplice and necessary outfit in a knapsack on his back and so set forth on foot to visit his scattered flocks.
For the first two years, he had no other income but $250, the grant made by the S.P.G. He called upon every family in his vast district. He was quite indifferent to the bodily comforts of bed or board. On one occasion, failing to reach the house where he was accustomed to stay till after the family had retired, he made himself a bed of straw in a farm wagon, where he was found fast asleep when they went to their work in the morning. At every service he catechised the young and taught them their prayers in the face of the congregation. He was bold in rebuking vice and strictly enforcing the discipline of the church, excluding evil livers from the communion. He had a strong dislike for all "Dissenters," Roman and Protestant; he would not eat with their ministers, nor walk on the same side of the road. A good old Presbyterian minister, living at Fredericksburgh, had great respect for Mr. Langhorn's honesty and earnestness, and had made repeated endeavors to be on brotherly terms with him, but his advances were invariably repulsed. "One day," he says, "riding on horseback, when the roads were exceedingly bad, and walking a heavy labour, I overtook the old gentleman in a wood, and much of our labour then lay through the woods. He appeared much exhausted with walking, and well might he, for there was a wall of trees on either side, which prevented the circulation of the air and the suns rays were pouring down with great intensity. Now, thought I, his reverence is fatigued, and I will avail myself of the opportunity of making friends with him by offering him my horse. So I rode up and addressed him, 'good-day to you Mr. Langhorn.' He soon gave me to understand that he was not obliged to me for my salutation. However, I thought, at all hazards I would carry out my intention, and so proceeded, - 'It is a very warm day, sir, and the roads are bade and you appear much fatigued, allow me to offer you my horse.' He again stopped and eyeing me very seriously said: 'Sir, you are a promoter of schism in the flock of Christ; I cannot, therefore, have any intercourse with you, much less accept any favor from you.' So I left him." No wonder that he was described by the bishop of Nova Scotia as an uncouth man, and but little acquainted with the world, but as a conscientious and honest man. Whenever he entered the house of a churchman he gave the Apostolic salutation, "Peace be to this house and to all that dwell therein."
The "Dissenting" preacher used to take advantage of his rough exterior and want of fluency of speech to attack him on some controverted passage. This used to annoy him at first, but he soon hit upon a remedy. He carried about with him a pocket edition of the Greek testament and when any preacher attempted to entrap in a controversy, he would hand him the book and ask him to read that passage in the original, and when he could not, Mr. Langhorn would say; "You see, my friends, the folly of listening to a teacher who cannot read the language in which the new testament was written." They soon ceased attacking him.
For his health's sake and to brace his nerves, he used to bathe every morning in Lake Ontario, and this practice he dept up during the coldest days of winter, when he could only get his bath by jumping into the holes made for the purpose of watering the cattle. But whatever may be said of his eccentric and uncouth manners, it was universally allowed that he was a devoted, humble minded and fearless missionary, whose earnest labors have left their marks on many a life and home.