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OF MISSIONARY EFFORTS.
tion of MAUKE and MITIARO* before the arrival of Mr. Williams ; and the more than mortal or angelic might, which, grasping such a planet, and snatching it from the dominion of the shadow of death, should replace it in its own orbit, to behold the beauty and glory of the sun, to obey his laws, to enjoy the light, life, and felicity which he alone can impart, would perform an act in some decree resembling the deeds achieved by the Martyr of Erromanga.
But we must not confine our views to the earthly calainities by which idolatry was distinguished in Polynesia ; for this is only a matter of comparative importance. Time, with whatever trials and tortures it may be attended, soon passes over each successive generation of mankind; but unpardoned guilt survives the wreck of the sepulchre ; it marches onward to eternity, followed by punishment, as substance is by shadow. The condition of the idolater is not improved beyond the grave. By exchanging worlds, he obtains knowledge ; but his misery still cleaves to hiin
a girdle. Living without God, he dies without hope, and awakes beyond the flood, only to descry the certainty, the intensity, and the perpetuity of his sorrows! The degradation of the idolater then receives the stamp of eternity! Between him and the glorious fountain of everlasting felicity the separation is rendered complete and final! He must remain through endless ages an outcast from God, the contempt of the righteous, wholly devoid of all virtue and of all bliss, an inhabitant of perdition, amid "weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth!” Who can describe, who can understand, the final results of idolatry! If its temporal consequences have been such, that the greatest catastrophes of our earth arising from plague, famine, and the sword, have only been as the troubles of childhood,
* Williams, p. 23.
who shall estimate its terrible results on ihe eternal condition of its votaries! If, then, there be any means by which we may subvert the empire of idolatry--any means by which we may dry up those streams of endless and intolerable anguish which issue from under its blood-stained and infernal altars, and roll on into the regions of futurity, to embitter the being of its victims, is not the immediate and most extensive application of such means an act of the most devoted piety, the most imperative duty, and the most sublime philanthropy ? Are not all other vocations and pursuits--how laudable, how illustrious soever, in the eyes of men, and with whatever favours and honours loaded by the world, but as the plays of infancy, and the amusements of dotage? And are there means of certain efficacy to such ends? Yes; and the life of John Williams was devoted to their application. The primary object of that remarkable man was to subvert idolatry, to restore the lost knowledge of the true God, to proclaim the Gospel of Christ, to renew the souls of men in the Divine image, and to re-instate them in the favour and service of the Most High. These were his primary objects ; but he had also objects of a secondary, yet still exalted order, such as to extinguish war, and establish peace, to awaken the dormant sensibilities of the human heart, to lay deep and strong the foundations of society by a revival of the law of marriage according to the Divine appointment, to impart the blessings of education, arts, science, commerce, and civilization, to institute just law and free government. We now proceed to show that both these classes of objects were amply realized by the Martyr of Erromanga.
Our illustrations open with the wondrous narrative of Aunra, the chief of Rurutu, who, after fleeing from the imaginary fury of his gods, supposed to be expressed in a destructive malady, and escaping the rage of successive tempests, and the perils of famine, reached
OF MISSIONARY EFFORTS,
Raiatea, where he beheld the effects of the gospel, and listened to the voice of mercy.
Providence soon opened a path for the chief to return to his native island ; but, notwithstanding his anxiety to revisit it, he refused to go back to “the land of darkness without a light in his hand,” -a person, he meant, to instruct his people and himself in the gospel of salvation.
He obtained his wish, and returned to Rurutu. Mr. Williams, anxious for the fate of the teachers, and the success of their message, soon after sent a boat with a native crew on an expedition of inquiry ; and in the space of a few weeks the boat returned, laden with the gods of the heathen, which their late worshippers had solemnly abandoned. What a sight was this to the youthful missionary! It was, however, only a pledge of that more abundant success with which the Lord was pleased to honour his servant. Cheering letters from the native teachers accompanied the idol cargo. You may conceive of Williams, reading the one, and gazing upon the other, his heart rejoicing within him, with an exulting rapture not unlike that which will animate the spirits of the heavenly hosts, when with shouts of triumph, they announce, that the “ kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ.”* The joy was not confined to the breasts of the missionaries. A meeting was straightway held in the Mission Chapel, to announce the intelligence to the people, and to offer thanks to the Most High, for the success of this first effort to extend the kingdom of his Son. The house was lighted up with all possible brilliancy-an act which harmonized with the object of the assembly ; for light had triumphed over darkness. In the course of the evening the rejected idols were exhibited from the pulpit to the happy throngs, who saw in them the symbols of their
* Williams, p. 12.
ON THE SUCCESS
own previous thraldom, and woful degradation. The national god of Rurutu attracted chief notice. The proper name of this monster-idol was Legion ; he was the insular god of gods ; with gods he was bedecked externally, and with gods he was filled ; for, on opening a small door, which was discovered in his back, no fewer than twenty-four smaller idols were found within him !
Williams employed the capture of the idols to deepen the people's horror of idolatry. While the chandeliers illumined the external scene, the lights which the Spirit of God had kindled in the breast of the natives were trimmed, and their collected rays poured full on the minds of the assembly. Deacon Tuahine, while gazing on the heap of idols, nobly exclaimed, “ Thus the gods made with hands shall perish! There they are, tied with cords ! Yes : their very names are also changed ! Formerly they were called gods; now they are called evil spirits. Their glory, look—it is birds' feathers, soon rotten; but our God is the same for ever.” On this glorious night, Uaeva, too, dexterously displayed the temporal bearings and blessings of the gospel. While the oil of the cocoa-nut was diffusing its radiance on the assembly, he cried out, “ Look at the chandeliers ! Oro never taught us any thing like this ! Look at our wives in their gowns and their bonnets, and compare ourselves with the poor natives of Rurutu, when they were drifted to our island, and mark the superiority! And by what means have we attained it ? By our own invention and goodness ? No! it is to the good name of Jesus we are indebted. Then let us send his name to other lands, that others may enjoy the same benefit. Angels would rejoice to be employed by God to teach the world this gospel of Christ."*
The eye of the Christian philanthropist beholds in
* Williams, p. 12.
OF MISSIONARY EFFORTS,
this evening's illumination and exhibition, a beauty and a glory of an order far superior to those of European capitals announcing the victories of fleets and armies. What were the triumphs of Marengo and Austerlitz ? Triumphs based in rapine, blood, and slaughter. The light and joy of Raiatea were not counterbalanced by darkness, tears, groans, and death in Rurutu ! The voice of gladness was heard in both isles. The addresses to which we have referred supply a wondrous contrast to the savage harangues of Suwarrow, and the barbarous bulletins of Buonaparte! How unlike was the benevolent and gentle joy of the Mission Station to the ferocious and sanguinary exultation of the Romans, when Lucius Veturius announced in the city the slaughter of the brave Hasdrubal, with fifty-six thousand Carthaginians !* Behold the effects of “ the knowledge of the Lord !" See how peace succeeds to - war-love to hatred—and sparing mercy to ruthless vengeance !
Aitutaki supplies the next illustration. When Williams first visited that island, its people presented an appalling picture of savage life. Some were tattooed all over ; others were fantastically painted with pipeclay, and red and yellow ochre ; while some were all begrimed with charcoal ; and, thus disfigured, they danced, shouted, and threw themselves into the most frantic gestures. In this bedlam isle he left two teachers to assail idolatry, and to diffuse the knowledge of the true God and of Jesus Christ. When he next approached their shores, his vessel was surrounded by canoes, the crews of which shouted, “ Good is the word of God; it is now well with Aitutaki ; the good word has taken root at Aitutaki.” Some holding up their hats, of European make, and others their spelling books, as proofs of their assertion. The arrival of a chief's
* Livy, lib. xxvii. cap. 41.