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that half of the crew whose watch it was, standing, each at his post, (along side of brace, tack, sheet, or lift,) waiting with an air of prompt yet patient attention for the sudden and urgent commands that might be given; but particularly to behold the timoneer, (the man at the helm,) whose hands firmly grasped the wheel, and whose eye alternately, anxiously, intelligently, glanced from the compassbox to the sails, from the sails to the eye of the captain, and thence again to the compass. The picture, the reality, which this scene presented, was sublimely affecting, and produced an exaltation rather than a depression of mind, amidst all the terrors of conflicting elements around us. A fall of snow that followed covered the deck four inches deep. The squall, however, passed away without having harmed us.—Vol. I, p. 18.
On the arrival of the deputation at Tahiti, Sept. 25th, the missionaries welcomed them with inexpressible joy; "they thanked God, and took courage."
Throughout the various isles of the Pacific, the triumphs of christianity have been more extensive and wonderful, within the last fifteen years, than have been witnessed elsewhere since the age of the Apostles. The promises, that Christ shall have the heathen for his inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession; that a nation shall be born in a day; and that Kings shall become nursing fathers, and Queens nursing mothers to the church, have there been surprisingly fulfilled. The work too has been accomplished, not by might, nor by power, but by the spirit of the Lord of hosts. In some instances, converted natives, in their eagerness to make known the love of Christ as shed abroad in their hearts, have of their own accord gone to neighboring islands to scatter the good seed of the kingdom. Others, when driven unexpectedly by adverse winds to islands far distant, have, in their simple way, preached salvation through the blood of the Redeemer; and others still, who were yet idolaters, while taking a short excursion by water, have been borne by sudden storms to some distant island, where a missionary was stationed, and from thence on their return, after being taught the way of life through Christ, have carried the gospel back to their own people. In all these cases, every means made use of, even the most incidental, seemed to be favored of God to effect the conversion of the islanders. The change which had been effected among them in 1821, is thus spoken of by the Deputation.
The following islands are known to have cast away their idols, and declared themselves worshipers of the living God :—Tahiti, Eimeo, Huahine, Raiatea, Taha, Borabora, Maupiti, which may be seen from Borabora, thirty miles off'; also Tetaroa, twenty-eight miles north-west of Tahiti; Maiaoiti, Tubuai, three hundred miles south of Tahiti; Raivavai, upwards of sixty miles east by south of Tubuai; and Rurutu, upwards of three hundred miles south of Maiaoiti. It is believed, that several of the islands in the Dangerous Archipelago have likewise abandoned paganism, and are waiting for the gospel. Though some of the avowedly Christian islands have no European missionaries resident upon them, native teachers, by the blessing of God, conduct the Sabbath and week-day devotions, reading the scriptures, singing, and praying, “in the great congregation;" as well
as privately, and from house to house, expounding the truths of Christianity according to their knowledge; exhorting those who say that they are believers, to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior by a suitable walk and conversation.-Vol. I, p. 62.
These islands were all under the absolute control of king Pomare, who, though formerly an idolater and abandoned to almost every vice, had through the influence of christianity become greatly reformed, and the decided and constant friend of the missionaries and their plans. From him, in fact, they received in various ways, incalculable assistance in prosecuting their work at the different islands. The following is a single instance.
Mr. Nott, among other curiosities, showed us a manuscript copy of the translated Gospel of St. Luke, executed by King Pomare in a very neat, small hand. It was from this copy that the first edition of that Evangelist was printed. Mr. Nott stated that he had been greatly aided by Pomare in making that version, the king being better acquainted with the Tahitian language, and its capabilities, than most of his subjects. This is probably an unparalleled instance of a prince-and that no mean one, for he had the power of life and death, and his will was law in all cases throughout his dominions-devoting time and talents to the slow and painful labor of translating the sacred Scriptures, and copying out the work for the press with his own hand, that he might be the means of bestowing upon his people the greatest earthly boon which God has bestowed upon man. The Gospel of St. Luke was indeed the first volume ever printed in any language of the South Sea Islands, except a small spelling-book, necessary to prepare the way for it by teaching the natives to read their own tongue.—Vol. I, p. 49.
The former customs of these islanders had been as barbarous and cruel, and their condition as wretched, as perhaps ever existed among human beings. Scarcely any species of wickedness or vice can be named, which was not exhibited among them in its worst forms. Wars of the most bloody and desolating character were continually raging among hostile chiefs, while thousands of human victims were offered up in sacrifice to their idols. The practice of infanticide prevailed every where among the islands, of the extent of which, some idea may be formed from the following extract.
While going to Mr. Wilson's, in the morning, we conversed with Mr. Nott, who has resided here from the commencement of the mission, on the subject of infanticide, and learned, with horror, that it had been practised to an extent incredible except on such testimony and evidence as he, and the brethren on other stations, have had the means of accumulating. He assured us, that three fourths of the children were wont to be murdered as soon as they were born, by one or other of the unnatural parents, or by some person employed for that purposewretches being found who might be called infant-assassins by trade. He mentioned having met a woman, soon after the abolition of the diabolical practice, to whom he said, "How many children have you?" "This one, in my arms," was her answer. "And how many did you kill?” She replied, “Eight!" Another woman, to whom the same questions were put, confessed that she had destroyed seventeen! Nor were these solitary cases. Sin was so effectually doing its own work in these dark places of the earth, that, full as they were of the habitations of cruelty and wickedness, war, profligacy and murder, were literally exterminating a people unworthy to live; and soon would the "cities have been
wasted without inhabitant, the houses without a man, and the land been utterly desolate.” But the gospel stepped in, and the plague was stayed. Now the married, among this Christianized population, are exceedingly anxious to have offspring, and those who have them, nurse their infants with the tenderest affection.-Vol. I, p. 53.
From this horrid picture of barbarous life, which indicates the former general character and condition of the people, let us turn to the contrast presented in the following descriptions of the appearance of the people on the sabbath.
It is the universal practice of all the Christian natives of these islands to prepare their Sunday's food on the last day of the week. Not a fire is lighted, neither flesh nor fruit is baked, not a tree is climbed, nor a canoe seen on the water, nor a journey by land performed, on God's holy day; religion-religion aloneis the business and delight of these simple-minded people on the Sabbath.
Again, when on the small island of Matavai, the tourists say,
At sunrise, we went to the chapel on the beach, near Mr. Nott's house-a neat structure, having bamboo walls, thatched with palm-leaves, furnished with benches made of bread-fruit-tree planks, and capable of holding about four hundred persons. It is now used only as a school and prayer-meeting house. On our arrival, we found the place filled with natives, of both sexes, and various ages. They were all kneeling, while one of them was offering up prayer in the most fervent and devout manner. Scarcely a head was lifted up when we entered, and stepped as softly as might be to a place near the person who was officiating at the time. When he had finished his address to the Deity, he gave out a hymn, which was sung with much animation by the people. He then read a portion of St. John's Gospel, many of those who were present producing their Testaments, and following his voice with their eyes on the words of the book. Another prayer was then offered up, and the assembly departed, in the most quiet and becoming order, to their homes, after having continued together about an hour in this spontaneous service, for none but natives were present, except ourselves— two strangers, who coming into their meeting under such circumstances, though we understood not a word that was sung or said, yet were constrained, by evidence which we could not mistake, to confess that of a truth God was in the midst of them; and so, falling down, we felt that we could, with them, worship Him who is no respecter of persons, but who accepteth those, in every nation, that fear him, and work righteousness.
After breakfast, at nine o'clock, we accompanied Mr. Nott to public service, in the greater chapel over the river. This we found filled with a silent, decorous, and neatly clothed congregation, of nearly six hundred persons; many of the females wore bonnets of the English shape, and other parts of European dress. Mr. Nott preached from the words, "Sanctify them through thy truth.” —John xvii. 17. And what indeed but the truth-the truth of God-could have sanctified such a people as they were, within this generation-yea, less than seven years ago? The audience were exceedingly attentive, and appeared to join heartily in songs of praise, and silently to engage in prayer with the minister. We dined at Mr. Wilson's, whose house is hard by; from whence, learning that some native teachers would catechise the children, we returned to the chapel; and there witnessed a scene at once exhilarating and affecting. About sixty young persons were on their knees when we entered, while a chief of the district was praying with them. During the catechism which followed, the questions and answers were repeated to us in English, when we were gratified to observe that the former were well adapted, and the latter, for the most part, intelligent and satisfactory. At four o'clock there was public worship again. Mr. Wilson preached from Heb. ii. 3: "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" After the morning native service, Mr. Tyerman addressed us from Luke xiii. 7: "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?"-and Mr. Jones,
in the evening, from Numb. xxiii. 23: “What hath God wrought!" We closed this first Sabbath among these Christians of the Gentiles with edifying conversation, in company with Mr. Nott and Mr. Wilson, our host. What we have witnessed and recorded now, we believe to be a fair exemplification of what occurs every Sabbath here, and at all the missionary stations in these parts. Oh, that every friend of this cause at home could see the things that we have seen, and hear what we have heard, and feel what we have felt, this day, of the presence and power of God, to heal, revive, yea, new-create the souls which sin has fatally wounded, and exposed to "the second death!" How would their zeal, their faith, their hope, their love be increased, and their labors, their prayers, and their sacrifices, multiplied in proportion!—Vol. I, pp. 50-52.
Speaking of Eimeo, they state,
Messrs. Henry and Platt were waiting with a great concourse of the people, to welcome us. We had scarcely got under cover of Mr. Platt's hospitable roof, when five of the deacons of the church came to aroha us, that is, to express their joy at our arrival in Eimeo. Most heartily we returned their congratulations, by declaring our wonder and delight at beholding what great things the Lord had done for them. One of these, who was spokesman for his brethren, said (among other strong observations)-"We are brands plucked out of the burning. Satan was destroying, and casting us one after another into the flames of hell; but Jehovah came, and snatched us out of his hands, and threw water upon the fire that was consuming us-so we were saved!" After inviting us to meet the whole congregation on Monday, to have a friendly talk together, they departed. Oct. 14, Lord's day. The public services, in the native languages, were most numerously attended, both in the fore and afternoon. Prayer-meetings were held as usual in the intervals. Oh, how good and how pleasant did we find it, in their Christian sanctuaries, to witness the stillness, the order, the devotion of these poor islanders, lately wild savages, ignorant alike of God and of themselves, and wallowing in all manner of abominations-their religion, such as it was, teaching them nothing but evil!-Vol. I, pp. 70–71.
Here we see something of the beautiful simplicity of the gospel; the loveliness, consistency, and purity of character formed by it in its unsophisticated state. We see, also, something of the powerful and benign influence it can exert on savage man, and that too, under circumstances the most unpropitious. Under what difficulties and discouragements did the missionaries for a long time pursue their toilsome labors.
We have lately been told, that several years before the arrival of our missionaries, some popish adventurers from Lima, in Peru, came to establish the Roman faith bere, as had been done by their church throughout South America. They settled in Tahiti, where they built a commodious house and enclosed the space about it with a strong fence, to protect their live stock of hogs and fowls. The natives, however, by one ingenious stratagem or another, contrived to rob them of every thing; by fish-hooks and lines catching the fowls, and by more violent means possessing themselves of the swine. At length, finding that the natives treated all their attempts to convert them with derision, and, besides plundering them of their property, continually harassed them with knavish pranks-on one occasion alarming them with the apprehension that poison had been given to them when they had been induced to taste of the tere, which had blistered their lips as soon as they touched it-these unfortunate emissaries abandoned their project in despair, and returned home.
For many years our missionaries were used in the same reckless and mischievous manner; but neither mockery nor maltreatment moved them. Enduring hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, they could not be conquered, because they would not yield These devoted men, so soon as they had gained sufficient
mastery of the language, made frequent tours through the islands, publishing from village to village the gospel of the kingdom. They generally traveled two and two together, and when they arrived in a populous neighborhood, one went to one extremity, and the other to the other, inviting the inhabitants, from house to house to attend at the appointed place. After thus collecting a small flock, and conducting them towards the central rendezvous, one of their reluctant recruits would make this excuse, and another that, to go into the bush, to call upon a friend &c. so that seldom more than ten or twelve could be mustered when the service began. Some of these soon deserted, likewise, and the rest either made game of the preacher, or were themselves laughed to scorn by their profane neighbors. These would say to a deformed person, "Go, you hump back, to the preacher, and he will set you strait;" or to a cripple, "take your lame leg to the white man, he will cure it.” For nearly twenty years the missionaries bore reproach and shame, willingly, for the Lord Jesus; but it grieved their feeling hearts to see the same ignorance, superstition, lewdness and cruelty, without diminution, prevailing among the heathen, as they found at their landing. Meanwhile like their Roman Catholic predecessors, they could scarcely preserve any moveable property from people who gloried in theft and roguery. Vol. I. p. 87.
At present, the reverse of all this is true in respect to these people. Any thing, and every thing, may be entrusted to them with the utmost safety. Of their scrupulous honesty, many gratifying examples were presented almost every day.
The missionaries, after acquiring the Tahitian language, began immediately to reduce it to form, and to prepare books for the people. Thousands were thus soon taught to read; and it is amusing to see the estimation in which their books were held.
Before we left Bunaauia, this morning, we had an opportunity of witnessing how eager the natives are to obtain such books as are, from time to time, printed here. Mr. Bourne had just completed a compendious spelling book, with a translation of Dr. Watts' small catechism. This book they call the Baba. It having been announced for publication to-day, before six o'clock in the morning about a hundred persons crowded the house, anxious to secure the precious volume; and being fearful that there might not be copies to supply all, each urged his claim to priority of purchase. The price was a bamboo of cocoa-nut oil. "See," cried one, "how large a bamboo mine is! let me have a book first." "But mine is much larger than his," exclaimed another; "let me have one before him." A poor man, lest he should be too late, had applied on Saturday night, but could not get his Baba then. He, however, refused to take back his bamboo of oil, and lashed it to one of the posts of the house, to hang there in readiness against the Monday. All at length were gratified. Vol. I. p. 123.
A practice has obtained, so far as we have been able to learn, among all barbarous nations, of marking and disfiguring their bodies; some for one purpose, some for another. Among the Tahitians, a practice called tatooing, was very prevalent. To execute this, there were professional artists, who traveled about the country and made it their constant business. It is thus described in the Journal.
We have often been struck with the singular ingenuity displayed in the tatooing of the bodies and limbs of these people. No two are marked alike. Different figures and devices, according to every one's fancy, are imprinted upon their skins, with a regularity and beauty, which cannot but excite admiration In very