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OF MISSIONARY EFFORTS.
astonishment that he should have been deluded so long, and expressing his determination never again to worship his idol gods.”* The lesson of Isaiah was not lost upon him ; how affecting to listen to his utterance of the following words : Eyes, it is true, they have ; but wood cannot see : ears they have ; but wood cannot hear!” He instantly decreed the destruction of his temples, the conflagration of his idols, and the erection of a house for God! He proceeded with Williams to Mitiaro, of which he was sovereign, and exhorted the people to burn their temples and abandon their gods, and listen to the servants of Jehovah, giving instructions that the house which they were erecting for himself should be devoted to the servants of God. His new light was employed to stifle the terrors of the people, lest the gods should be enraged and strangle them, by the bold reply, “ It is out of the power of the wood, that we have adorned and called a god, to kill us.”+
This convert king next sailed with the Missionary to Mauké, an island not previously known to any European, and of which he also was sovereign. The fulness of his heart, and the decision of his character, were beautifully exemplified in his conduct on landing. The first words he uttered as he leaped on shore, to Tararo, a chief, and an assemblage of the natives, were the following :—"I am come to advise you to receive the word of Jehovah, the true God, and to leave with you a teacher and his wife, who will instruct you. Let us destroy our Maraes, and burn all the evil spirits with fire ; never let us worship them again. They are wood which we have carved and decorated, and called gods. Here is the true God, and his word; and a teacher to instruct you. The true God is Jehovah, and the true sacrifice is his Son Jesus Christ.”I He
* Williams, p. 22.
+ Ibid. p. 23.
then exhorted them to build a house for God, and gave to the teacher a house which had been lately erected for himself.
How great a work Williams achieved in this brief space! Behold three islands alınost unknown, and two of them never before visited by any European vessel, brought at once to renounce idolatry! The first visit of the “white man" was a visit neither of idle curiosity, nor of merchandise, nor of plunder, but of Christian mercy.
Thus perished before the breath of the Lord the glory and the terror of many generations. The sun had risen with his wonted splendour, gilding the eastern heavens with his glory ; and little did the inhabitants of Mauke and Mitiaro imagine, that before he retired beneath the horizon in the western sky, Ichabod would be written upon the idolatry of their ancestors.
Pausing for a moment in the career of conquest, we must allow our Missionary a brief space for triumph. Setting sail from Rarotonga, immediately after discovering it, he proceeded homeward to Raiatea. His arrival was an event that will long be remembered. Nothing in the history of naval glory presents to our eye a picture possessing one thousandth part of the beauty of the following passage of Williams. • With grateful hearts we now turned our faces homewards ; where, after eight or ten days' sail, we arrived in safety ; and, as other warriors feel a pride in displaying the trophies of their victories, we hung the rejected idols of Aitutaki to the yard-arms and other parts of the vessel, entered the harbour in triumph, sailed down to the settlement, and dropt anchor amidst the shouts and congratulations of our people.” event, as in the case of the idols of Rurutu, was not allowed to pass without due improvement. Williams
* Williams, p. 28.
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detailed to the assembled people the results which had signalised the voyage.
The idols were suspended in proper positions about the chapel, which was illumined, and the people were addressed by successive speakers, among whom, Tuahine, the Deacon, took the lead. His speech was worthy of himself and of the occasion. Its conclusion possesses great beauty; probably nothing finer in thought, or more felicitous in expression, was ever uttered by a man under similar circumstances. “ Behold!" said he, pointing to the idols, while addressing the unconverted portion of the assembly, “ these are still your gods, although you do not acknowledge them.” Urging them to turn to Christ, by whose power the idols had been overthrown; he added, “ And how can you resist his power ? The gods of wood are food for the fire, but the God without form is beyond your strength; his head cannot be reached ! These gods are conquered ; but the invisible God will remain for ever. The idols now hanging in degradation before us, were formerly unconquerable ; but the power of God is gone forth, by which men become Christians, and savages brethren in Christ.”
A second speaker brought forth with equal force and beauty the peculiar character of the means by which this great victory had been obtained, and presented it in striking contrast with the instruments of human carnage.
Hear his remarkable words :-“We have been praying that God would exert his power, and cause his word to grow, that his good kingdom might come ; and now, behold, every man, with his own eyes, may see the effects of that power. These idols have not been obtained by spears clotted with human blood, as formerly ; no guns, no clubs, no other weapon but the powerful gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Formerly all was theirs, pigs, fish, men,
* Williams, p. 28.
women, and children; and now, behold them suspended in contempt before us! This is not the commencement of our joy. We saw the idols hanging about the vessel, and gladness sprang in our hearts. They called our ship the ship of God, and truly it was so, for it carried the gospel to distant lands, and brought back the trophies of its victory. Does praise grow in every heart ? Is joy felt by all ? Then let us not only rejoice that ' devils are subject to us, but also that our names are written in the book of life.'”
British youth! do try to realize the feelings of the martyr on entering the harbour of Raiatea, and during that glorious night. How transcendent were they as compared with those of the greatest admirals on returning from the scene of ocean carnage ! Who among you, would not ten thousand times rather have been John Williams on those occasions, than Blake, or Duncan, or Hood, or Howe, or even Nelson himself, in their proudest hour ? Defence of country against invasion is, doubtless, a source of satisfaction to a patriotic heart; but the thought of blood and slaughter embitters all. The means apart, the end, how high soever, admits not of a moment's comparison with the work of Williams. How great, unutterably great, the good bestowed upon those benighted islanders! What honour, what felicity to himself resulted from the operations of the Missionary ! What raptures of delight filled his soul while he cast his benignant eye over those verdant and lovely isles, and reflected that he had demolished their idolatry with its abominations, and lifted up the spirits of their people to fellowship with God! What joy to think that the good he had conferred would descend from generation to generation, down to the latest ages, and hat, after ne, it would fill eternity!
The next enterprise of the great Missionary relates to the discovery and illumination of Rarotonga. Such
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were the profligacy and licentious violence of its people towards the native teachers, whom Williams purposed to leave, that he determined to carry them back, and for the present to abandon the island. But Papeiha, strong in faith, and full of pity, bravely volunteered to remain among them, and attempt the subversion of their idolatry. Just think of this converted native advancing from the vessel to the isle for this great object, having, as his weapons, simply a New Testament and a bundle of elementary books. In the eye of mere reason how feeble an agency ! How utterly inadequate, in the estimation of a vain philosophy, was this humble man to the arduous enterprise ? But what saith history ? Tyerman and Bennet, who visited the island about a year afterwards, attest that the whole population had renounced idolatry, and were engaged in the erection of a house for the God of heaven six hundred feet in length !
When the Missionary Martyr subsequently visited this island, he received a welcome of which it is not easy for us to understand the real character. Only conceive of him sitting, at the request of the teachers, outside the door of the house built by them, and assigned for his convenience during his stay, and look at yonder multitude in the distance, advancing towards the Missionary, a portion of them bearing heavy burdens. The procession draws near ; an enormous idol is by its bearers dropped at his feet, and another, and another, till fourteen are laid before him, the smallest of them about fifteen feet in length! Behold him, on the ensuing Lord's-day, surrounded by a concourse of about four thousand of those persons who had rejected their gods, hanging on his lips as he proclaimed the gospel of mercy !* Tinomana, the chief, will continue, while Rarotonga shall exist, a beautiful example of simplicity
* Williams, pp. 30, 31,