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canoe communicated the fact, that the Maraes were burned ; that such of the idols as had escaped the flames, were in the hands of the teachers, and that so general was the profession of Christianity, that not an idolater remained. Every thing harmonized with this representation ; a chapel, of the enormous length of nearly two hundred feet, had been erected and waiting the arrival of Williams to open it; the Sabbath was a day of rest from all labour, when young and old assembled to receive instruction ; and family prayer was prevalent throughout the island. On going ashore, Mr. Williams found the face of things entirely changed. Every mind seemed alive to the business of religion. Gentleness, docility, and kindness were every where apparent ; the people were occupied, according to their tastes, feelings, and different stages of advancement, spelling long words, repeating catechisms or prayers, giving thanks for food, and singing verses of hymns.* This wondrous transformation was effected within the brief space of eighteen months.
The next day presented Williams in a position of glory which, in moral grandeur far transcended that of Napoleon, when—on his fatal march to Moscow, with eight sovereigns enlisted under his banners--an emperor, kings, and a crowd of princes, all impelled by every passion but love, thronged to meet him-him by whom they had been subdued, humbled, plundered, and oppressed-him, who had injured them all, and whom for that injury they all abhorred ! While Williams was in the midst of conversation, his attention was arrested by a tingling sound, produced by striking an axe with a stone, in substitution for a bell. By this means' the people were assembled to the number of from 1500 to 2000, who listened with the utmost decorum and with eager attention, while he preached to
* Williams, p. 16.
OF MISSIONARY EFFORTS.
them that " God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son." How had the love of God triumphed here! At the time of his former visit, these people were constantly killing, and even eating each other, for they were cannibals ; but now they were all with one accord bending their knees together as friends and brethren, and worshipping the God of peace and love. In the evening the triumph was rendered complete by transferring to the vessel the gods—thirty-one in number--that had escaped destruction.*
The word of the Lord had run at a very rapid rate among these people. Papeiha, one of the teachers, had convened them and proclaimed to them the love and greatness of Jehovah, making war at once upon the idols and upon their temples. The assent of the assembly to his propositions for their destruction was cordial and universal ; the meeting broke up ; lights were struck ; the conflagration commenced ; straightway all the temples of the island were in flames; and by the time the morrow's sun arose to illumine the scene, not a single Marae remained unconsumed! + Nor did the marvel end with this awful but delightful demonstration. The same truth which destroyed the temples, overthrew their occupants, the gods. Never was military conquest more complete than was that of the humble men who carried on the spiritual war with idolatry in Aitutaki. The whole population came in procession, district after district, the chief and the priest leading the way, and the people following loaded with their rejected idols which they laid at the teacher's feet ! Who can estimate the benefit thus conferred upon these islanders? How quickly they were lifted up from their intellectual and moral prostration, and freed from the fetters of a foul and sanguinary idolatry, the evil genius of which had for many ages ruled and
* Williams, p. 17.
+ Ibid. p. 20.
tortured the inhabitants of that verdant isle ! Is there one among the Christian youth of England, who would not ten thousand times rather have been Williams in : Aitutaki, than Napoleon in Moscow ? Both were surrounded by the work of destruction, but how different the objects and results ! When the colossus of war had reached that great capital, he coldly and proudly exclaimed, “ At length then, I am in Moscow, in the ancient palace of the Czars, in the Kremlin !" Yes, destroyer of men ! Thou art in the Kremlin, crowned with the curses and execrations of an empire ! Let the votary of war view the god of European armies in this dreadful position. The patriotic Russians, preferring the loss of all things to French subjugation, nobly fired Moscow, and while fleeing to prepare for fresh resistance, they left the devouring element to expel the ruthless invader from the palace of their emperors ! In that renowned edifice the imperial warrior slept till awaked on the following morn by the blended light of the rising sun and the blazing city! He started ; and his eye-an eye familiar with the dread ravages of fire and sword - flashing on the terrible scene, he exclaimed, “ What a tremendous spectacle! It is their own work! So many palaces ! What extraordinary resolution ! What men ! These are Scythians indeed !”?* There the tyrant, encircled by a sea of fire, which blocked up all the gates of the citadel, was left to battle with the furious element ! Wave succeeded to wave, and the ocean of flame rolled on towards the mighty Kremlin, whence it drove the scourge of Europe ! Here was a foe that defied his cannon ! He whose lion heart had never turned the back on an enemy, now fled amid the roaring of flames, the crash of walls, the fall of burning timbers, and the red-hot iron roofs which every moment tumbled around him, and dashing over
Segur, vol. ii. p. 49.
OF MISSIONARY EFFORTS.
a pavement of fire, beneath a canopy of Aaming sky, with burning walls on either hand, he escaped beyond the city l*
Following Williams in his benevolent career, we are next conducted to Atiu, and there introduced to Romatane, the principal chief, one of nature's highest nobles. This man presents to the historical painter one of the finest subjects in connexion with emancipation from the thraldom of darkness and the degradation of idolatry ever exhibited on the field of missions. It is much to be regretted that Williams did not record the principal parts of the wondrous dialogue held with this remarkable man under circumstances of so extraordinary a character. Academic discussions and the profoundest speculations of philosophy are matters low and grovelling compared with the discourse which Williams and his attendants held with Roma-tane. The process of illumination was rapid and complete. On boarding the missionary vessel he was cordially received by all, and immediately led aside by the chief of Aitutaki, who at once apprised him of the destruction of the temples of that island, and also of the burning of the great idols, —while, to confirm the strange recital, he led the astonished chieftain into the hold of the vessel and showed him the smaller gods which were being conveyed to Raiatea. This was the first step in the process; the second was a sermon by Williams, on the morning of the next day which was the Sabbath, from Isaiah's description of the idolater's infatuation,
“ With part thereof he roasteth roast, and is satisfied ; and the residue thereof he maketh a god, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me, for thou art
On the utterance of these words, the light of heaven was poured upon the mind of Roma-tane ; he was filled with utter astonishment. To this suc
ceeded a scene which it was worth sailing to the antipodes to witness. A new world had opened to the mind of the chief ; the great transition had begun ; he had already far advanced in his passage from darkness unto light; he now beheld for the first time the footsteps of Deity ; his soul had burst its fetters ; its covering of darkness had been rent asunder, and he obtained a glimpse of the Throne of the Great Eternal. The first element of the highest knowledge attainable by man or angel, had entered the mind of Roma-tane. Awful, sublime discovery! The effervescent rapture and school-boy exultation of the Grecian geometer, on discovering a point of science, has been much lauded as an illustration of the delight imparted by knowledge. " I have found it !” said he, “ I have found it!” The levity of the philosopher indicated the quality of the discovery, and showed that there was nothing moral in it. Very different was the feeling of appalling and · unutterable solemnity which filled the soul of Romatane. That dread idea which comprises all others, which absorbs, hides, annihilates all others, had entered his mind and heart-the idea of God! He was lifted up by its dignity; he was expanded by its immensity. The knowledge of all causes is as nothing compared with the knowledge of the First Cause—the knowledge of God. Even Newton, the father of the new philosophy, made but a frivolous discovery respecting the law of gravity and the planetary motions as compared with Roma-tane. As Williams expounded the marvellous theme, he was lost in wonder. He grasped the subject with inconceivable vigour and fervour. The new idea filled his whole mind; there was no room left for a second thought. Sleep and food were trifles beneath attention. “ At length he retired and spent the whole of the night in conversation with the teachers and chiefs from Aitutaki, about the wonderful truths he had heard, frequently rising up, and stamping with