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mation 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 and docility, as a learner of the way of salvation. When he asked the teachers what was the first lesson he had to learn, they told him, that he must destroy his maraes, and burn his idols; and his reply simply was, “ Come with me, and see them destroyed.” They followed, and anon the temple was in flames. It was to no purpose that some raged, and that others broke forth in passionate grief and doleful lamentations.t
* Williams, pp. 30, 31.
† Ibid, p. 47.
Reader! will this islander rise up in judgment against thee? Hast thou taken up thy station on the Saviour's side? Hast thou followed the Lord fully? Hast thou destroyed thine idols, and made way for thy Lord ? Hast thou received him into thy heart? Oh! remember that, according to the Scriptures of truth, thou art dead; but God has given thee life, and that life is in his Son Jesus Christ! Search the Book of God for thyself; compare its testimony with what is seen around thee, and felt within thee. Compare the blessings which it offers with those which human nature requires ; compare what it proposes to do with what it has actually done, in the case before us. Is not the power which effected these marvellous changes equal to the achievement of any thing and of every thing? Would not its universal exercise upon the hearts of men put a new face on the condition of our world? Would not such a transformation be the most beneficent and glorious event that ever appeared in that world? Do not the Scriptures promise such a revolution ? If Christian missions are the means by which God has appointed to effect it, can any earthly enterprise be compared, in point of importance, excellence, and dignity, with such missions ? As thus compared, are not all other pursuits low and worthless? Then ought not every man, who makes the slightest pretensions to either piety or philanthropy, to range himself, with all his influence, on the .side of this great undertaking ?
Conductors of the press ! this matter deeply concerns you. , Is it not full time to consecrate literature to this highest species of humanity? Is it not obligatory on your whole body to put forth their stupendous power in support of it? Is it not lamentable, that hitherto so
little has been done by many of you, in your all but omnipotent department of influence ? Gentlemen! be assured that it is of the first importance to the interests of our race, that the helm of literary power should be placed in the hands of those men, and of those alone, whose hearts beat high in unison with the advocates and conductors of Christian missions. In this great battle of benevolence, it becomes you to fight, side by side, with the ministers of religion, against the indifference, selfishness, and cupidity of British Christians. What auxiliaries, in this momentous work, might your presses prove to the pulpits and the platforms of the Christian churches! You who conduct the periodical press ought no longer to cater, as you too frequently do, to the corrupt passions of a profligate and semi-barbarous populace. It behoves you, in the pursuit of your high vocation, to labour, by all proper methods, to improve the understanding, and to purify the heart of the nations which compose this great empire.
Gentlemen! your position is awful; it is full of responsibility. You hold in your hands a key to the minds of millions, in England, whom the voice of the preacher cannot reach. To those millions themselves it is in your power to perform a service which language cannot estimate, and which neither gold nor gratitude could ever repay, by enlisting them on the side of missions. There is no limit, in this direction, to the field of your usefulness. It is a work which yet remains to prove the full power of the British periodical press. Splendid are the laurels which are yet to be reaped by it ; and happy those editors who shall be the first to put in the sickle! It is not proposed that you should forthwith become expositors of theological truth ; this is not your province: but the subject of morals is confessedly within your empire ; you claim politics as your own; and it is your pride and honour occasionally to plead with power in behalf of distressed humanity. The question of Christian missions, therefore, both home and foreign, comes legitimately within the sphere of your labours. It forms a chief branch, equally of morals, of politics, and of humanity. Its relations are manifold and multifarious ; its bearings on legislation and commerce are innumerable. In able hands, no subject admits of a more fascinating exhibition to the public mind and heart. You need not fear, therefore, the corrupt part of the public; they are neither your sole readers, nor your most influential supporters. But the topic of Christian missions may be rendered not merely palatable, but enchanting even to them. Still, however, if it were offensive to some, there is another class of readers to whom consideration is due--Christians of all sects. Their hearts are deeply set upon the work of missions, and in that work you can render them essential service. Their claims on you are strong; you are deeply in their debt; you have done little for religion and for them, as compared with what they have done for letters, and consequently for you. You often try at once their patience and their principles; you frequently offend their taste and wound their piety. Your columns are ever open to the world, while closed to the churches ; and your services are both frequently and effectively volunteered on the side of ungodliness. The tendency of much that you publish is, rather to encourage evil than to repress it.
Gentlemen, be wise at length; be just to the cause of humanity and its advocates. But what, it may be said, can you do? You can do much. You can give full reports of Missionary meetings and services; you can give occasional articles on the sphere and labours of particular missions, in addition to advocating the general question ; you can plead the cause of missionaries, when oppressed; you can give reviews of the published annual reports of the several Societies, and bring their claims before multitudes, who otherwise would never hear of them ; you can give notices and extracts of missionary works, and of missionary biography; you can call the attention of the rich and great, the high and mighty, to this work, and urge its claims upon their substance and patronage. These are some of the deeds which you may do; and by doing which you will render homage to Heaven, oblige the best portion of British citizens, and promote for both worlds the highest interests of all nations.