Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

Mr. Williams, “came empty-handed; some brought mats, others pieces of cloth, and others articles of food, which they presented as an expression of their sympathy. A few of the principal women went in to see Mrs. Williams, laid their little presents at her feet, and wept over her, according to their custom. The affection of this kind people remains unabated. In a recent visit paid to Rarotonga by my esteemed colleague, Mr. Barff, he perceived that the congregation of three thousand people to whom he preached, were all habited in black clothing. Upon inquiring the reason of this unusual and dismal attire, he was informed by Mr. Buzacott that, on the recent death of his little girl, the king and chiefs requested that they and their people might be permitted to wear mourning, as they did not wish to appear in their ordinary gay habiliments while the family of their Missionary was in affliction. Such an instance of delicate respect could scarcely have been expected from a people, who, twelve years before, were cannibals and addicted to every vice."*

Who, Sir, can desire a better comment on the glorious, because pacific, visions of Isaiah? Behold, in Rarotonga, the wolf dwelling with the lamb, the leopard lying down with the kid, the calf and the young lion, and the fatling together, and a little child leading them! Behold the sucking child playing on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child putting his hand on the cockatrice' den! Whence arises this surprising transformation ? The island is full of the knowledge of the Lord. This is the sole and sufficient cause. Who, Sir, will blush,

Behold the sued child putting his orising transfo

* Williams, p. 104.

to avow himself the advocate of a cause so fraught with peace on earth and good-will among men? Compared with the enterprise which is attended with such results, surely the pursuits of literature, science, commerce, and everything of a merely sublunary character, are but low, earthly, and vulgar. To the enlightened and candid mind this is clear and incontrovertible. Were it not for the piety that blends with the enterprise, it would be the object of boundless and universal admiration. But for the gospel—the “rod” with which John Williams wrought all his wonders—he would be all but deified ! Our philosophers, philanthropists, and men of sentiment would sound his fame to the farthest shores of the civilized world! Howard, as compared with Williams, would be deemed—and justly deemed—only a taper before the blazing sun. Poets, orators, painters and sculptors, would, each in his own way, all labour to diffuse his renown, and consign it to immortality! Long ere this St. Paul's and Westminster would have had committed to their awful custody tablets and statues to the honour of the illustrious philanthropist ! Public halls would have boasted his bust; and monumental pillars, erected to his glory in our parks and promenades, had been pointing to the skies ! But the cross, the offensive cross, has marred all! By this the world is as much crucified to him as he was to the world. Neither saw aught to admire in the other; and the deeds which it cannot deny, it endeavours to overlook. Till that world shall have discovered beauty in the Messiah, it will see none in the missionary.

On these grounds it is, that so much importance attaches to the labours of literary laymen, especially men of rank and property, in behalf of missions. Whatever may be achieved by a clerical hand to convince and abash the adversary, there is still the disadvantage to be encounteredthe performance is professional. This is enough! But when men like yourself, Isaac Taylor, and other master spirits, step forth as the advocates of evangelical operations, the question assumes a new shape, and it must be dealt with in another manner. Do allow me, therefore, with all the respect which I feel for your character, gifts, and acquirements, to urge this consideration. Your volumes on the “ Truths," on the “Errors,” and on “Mental Philosophy," are good and useful; but a chapter of your “Advancement,” or ten pages of your “ Hints,” are of a hundred-fold more real value than they all to the mighty work of the world's salvation! Do, Sir, do continue to wield your transcendant power, and to use the influence arising from your social position, to advance this most glorious of all objects! The subject is not exhausted; it is only begun. In your hands it may be made to assume a shape, and present a beauty which will command the attention and captivate the imagination both of the literary and the aristocratic circles. Had I the power to impel performance, you should assuredly have no rest until you had published and addressed to those circles a series of letters on Christian missions !

-"Acceptissima semper
Munera sunt auctor quæ pretiosa facit."

LETTER VII.

TO THOMAS WILSON, ESQ., TREASURER OF THE

LONDON MISSIONARY SOCIETY.

ON THE RESULTS OF MISSIONARY LABOUR IN RELATION TO THE

INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE, ARTS, COMMERCE, AND CIVILIZATION.

MY DEAR SIR,—You are, beyond most men, an individual whose habits, character, and understanding, are all thoroughly practical. You have neither time nor taste for theoretic trifling upon any subject, whether of politics or of religion. Your eye is ever directed to results; and by these you have always tested both systems and men. In consecrating your time, talents, influence, and fortune, to the advancement of the kingdom of Christ, both at home and abroad, you have always felt and maintained that you were adopting the most, and, indeed, the only successful method of at once promoting the interests of the purest patriotism and the most exalted philanthropy. You have long rejoiced in the benign spirit and the beneficent operation of Christianity, and laboured much to promote its spread both for the glory of God and the good of man. On these and other grounds I now address to you the following letter on the glorious effects of the gospel upon the earthly welfare of the once barbarous inhabitants of Polynesia.

Christianity deals first with the individual character, next with the domestic constitution, and lastly with civil society; the first is the basis of the second, and the second of the third. When the individual man is brought to know the Lord, and is disposed to select for himself a companion in life, he is left to cherish his preference towards the sex with only two limitations ; first, that all his affections shall centre in one object; and that she, like himself, shall belong to the family of God. The happiness equally of male and female requires the rigorous, uniform, and universal observance of the divine appointment concerning marriage. Polygamy is as injurious to the peace and comfort of the one sex as of the other. It is a violation of the order of nature and the command of God: he, therefore, who contributes to promote the observance of marriage is a great benefactor to his species. Now, polygamy is always, more or less, the attendant of idolatry; and hence when the missionary assails the latter, he undermines the former. Hence, too, it results that the missionary has done more to destroy polygamy than all other classes of men united. Of this species of benevolence, as of most others, he has a monopoly. How full of interest is the Martyr's account of the abolition of polygamy in Rarotonga! How affecting and laudable was the king's conduct! Of three wives—one of them his own sister-he parted from two, and, in the presence of his people, was married to one ; and the people, as a matter of course, followed the impressive example of their sovereign. Who can estimate the extent of the

« НазадПродовжити »