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1807, England has wrought wonders. She has induced all the great Powers of Europe to unite in expressing their abhorrence of this infernal system ; and with all of them she has made treaties for its extinction. She has expended in bounties alone, nearly a million sterling, and, in upholding courts established for adjudicating upon the case of captured slaves, nearly 350,0001, besides the annual expense of supporting a considerable force of cruizers, in various waters, to intercept and destroy the abominable traffic. These, as matters of finance, have been no light thing. This expenditure, together with payments made to foreign courts, in furtherance of the object for the relief of liberated Africans, and other incidental expenses, has amounted to upwards of fifteen millions sterling! Shall we add to this the twenty millions paid to the West Indian planters, and all the outlay connected with working out the freedom of their slaves ? Such has been the cost of these mighty movements of British mercy !
What has been the result? It has been great, great even beyond the price paid to realise it. The Christian humanity of England has obtained an unparalleled triumph-a triumph compared with which all her martial victories shrink into deeds of littleness and of doubtful praise. She,” the queen of nations, “hath done what she could." But has the slave market been closed ? Has the accursed traffic ceased ? No! Sir Thomas. Let the Christians of England learn from your invaluable book that the export trade in human beings, from the shores of Africa, is doubled as compared with 1807—that the destruction of life, with all its consequent guilt and misery, is augmented from seventeen to twenty
cent! Such is the present state of this awful question. What are its prospects ? What can England do by diplomacy and legislation that she has not done ? By efforts unparalleled, incredible, and above all praise,
she has laboured to dry up the fountain of this foulest disgrace of our times; but her stupendous and imperial exertions have hardly sufficed to arrest a few of its smaller currents, and that only to turn them aside into other channels; the main streams roll on swollen by internal tributaries, as ey proceed in their rapid progress, while some dark and fathomless alyss, in the centre of Africa, by which they must be principally fed, has not yet been even seen by the white man's eye, much less reached by the healing hand of Christian benevolence. What then is to be done ? Parliainents and cabinets stand aghast, and mere philosophic philanthropy is mute! To this question there is only one correct answer. Let the churches of Christ go and erect the cross in the midst of the carnage! Let them point the nations of Africa to the Lamb of God. Let God's own remedy be applied to stanch the wounds of that bleeding country. Let the wisdom of the world give place to the Revelations of mercy, and let the saints of Europe rally to a new and holier crusade ! They are now summoned to the loftiest evangelical enterprise that has yet engaged their hearts or filled their hands. As an auxiliary establishment, it is difficult, Sir Thomas, to speak of your Society in terms of extravagant commendation.
It is, undoubtedly, every way and very much adapted to facilitate Missionary operation and accelerate the triumphs which certainly await our African Missions. That Society, in my opinion, deserves the most cordial and munificent support of all the friends of Missions and of mankind. In support of the claims which I set up for Missions, and which you so frankly and feelingly concede, and in addition to the illustrations of your work, I will now detail a series of appropriate facts which have been supplied by the Martyr of Erromanga. Government is the ordinance of God for the good of
It may exist under a variety of forms, and these
forms may all be bad. Such was the fact in the South Seas. At Tongatabu, the chiefs were elected and their power was limited ; in the surrounding isles, they were hereditary and despotic. In the Samoa group government presented a very fragmentary character ; every settlement even was an independent state governed by its own rulers, whose authority, in the view of Mr. Williams, was not extensive. In some groups the despotism was strong and deadly ; in others, so weak, that government could hardly be said to exist. This fact was strikingly set forth by the chief of Mangaia, who, as an apology to Mr. Williams for his inability to prevent the brutal treatment of the native Missionaries, with tears, said, that “ in his island, all heads being of an equal height, his influence was not sufficient to protect them.”
Wherever Christian Missionaries successfully prosecute their labours, and exert an influence upon the minds of men, that influence speedily extends to government. Change the character of the subject, and you ultimately change the character of the laws, and the form of administration. The church and state principle was, in Polynesia, found to be in general operation. Their civil and judicial polity and all their usages were interwoven with their superstitions. These superstitions necessarily imparted a foul, a sanguinary character to their barbarous laws, which were consonant neither with justice nor with virtue.
When the power of Divine truth has once smitten the superstructure it will soon shake the foundation. The spreading light of the gospel quickly makes manifest the real nature of heathen institutions, which, it is found, are utterly incompatible with the precepts of Christ. The question of the reformn or the reconstruction of such systems then begins to press heavily upon the attention of their adherents. Now it is that the Missionary assumes an attitude of interest before the awakening population. To him the heads of the community, whose confidence
he has won, naturally seek. It is quite within his province to give counsel upon every point where the word of God has spoken, and where it is silent, he is authorized, as well as Paul, to give his “ judgment as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.” Of the Missionary duty, under such circumstances, Mr. Williams furnishes a beautiful example. In all his operations of this description, he carefully distinguished between the things that were Cæsar's and those which belong to God. How pure, and how important is the principle laid down in the following passage, as to the rights and duties of the chief in relation to the spread of the kingdom of God!" Matetau, the chief of the neighbouring island of Manono, having come to see us, we were desirous of showing him respect by making him a present, and therefore requested him to accompany us to the vessel. He was described as equal in rank, and superior in war, to Malietoa. This we could easily believe, for he was one of the largest and most powerful men I ever saw. His muscular and bony frame brought forcibly to our minds him of ancient fame the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam.' Men of ordinary size would be as grasshoppers in his hand. This chief spent a day and a night with us, and was exceedingly urgent that we should give him a teacher, and pressed his claim by assuring me that he would feed him, and place himself under his instruction, and make all his people do the same. Having no teacher left, I satisfied him by promising that on my next visit I would bring him one ; but, as he had observed, by way of inducing me to do so, that he would make his people place themselves under his instruction, I thought it advisable at once to tell him that he must not force them, contrary to their own wishes, but, having set them the example himself, and exhorted them to follow it, then to leave them to their own convictions and inclinations ; but the employment of any kind of coercion
to induce men to become Christians was contrary to the principles of our religion."*
The people of Raiatea adopted a code of laws prepared by Mr. Williams and Mr. Threlkeld. In that instrument the wisdom and humanity of the Missionaries shine beautifully forth. The facts, as rehearsed by Williams, are so very precious as to demand transcription in his own words. “ The laws were but few in number, and drawn up in the plainest and most perspicuous language, entirely devoid of all the technicalities and repetitions by which the statutes of enlightened and civilized countries are too frequently rendered obscure and perplexing : for it appeared to us of the greatest importance that they should be so simply and clearly expressed, that they might be easily understood by the people for whom they were framed. We determined, also, as far as possible, to lay a permanent foundation for the civil liberties of the people, by instituting at once that greatest barrier to oppression—trial by jury. The same code, a little modified, was, after much deliberation and consultation, adopted by the chiefs and people of Rarotonga ; and thus we trust that the reign of despotism, tyranny, and private revenge, under which the inhabitants of this secluded garden had so long groaned, has for ever terminated.”+
These sentiments become an Englishman and a Christian Missionary. . The value of such a code may by unthinking men be deemed very small ; but they ought to remember, that the first step towards rational freedom, is a movement of unutterable importance. The rudest elements of a system of true liberty form one of the noblest and most glorious objects that this world can present to an enlightened understanding. How barbarous a picture of a South Sea despot is given by Williams in his account of Finau ! When the Mis
* Williams, p. 92.
+ Ibid. p. 35.