« EelmineJätka »
FROM THE SANDWICH ISLANDS.
could scarcely be found. A group of twelve or thirteen fine fertile islands, in one of the most delightful climates perhaps any where to be met with, rising rapidly into consequence as places at which vessels may refresh, in passing from the western side of the new world to the eastern parts of the old world, and affording ports for repairs and refreshments to great numbers of Pacific ocean whalers having also a population of above 200,000 inhabitants, must have great importance as a missionary field. We made a tour round the greater part of this beautiful island, accompanied by our missionary friend, Mr. Bingham, and a messenger from the king, and were every where received with the greatest kindness, both by chiefs and people. While we deeply mourned over the deplorable state of ignorance, vice, and wretchedness, in which we found the people of all ranks, we could not but rejoice at the readiness we every where found to listen to the gospel, which was addressed to various assemblies-sometimes within a house, sometimes under a tree, or in the shade of a rock. We did not find any native who had the least notion who it was that made the sea, the sky, or themselves; but they all said it was maitai (good) to learn these things, and to worship Jehovah and that, as soon as the king told them to do so, they would all come to learn. At one place (Uarua) we were kindly received and hospitably entertained by an intelligent chief, who was one of the principal priests of the abolished system. He made many inquiries about the nature of this new religion, and proposed some difficulties for solution. Among other questions, he asked whether Jehovah could understand, if they prayed to him in Hawaiian, or whether they must all learn English! When he had received answers which appeared to satisfy him, he said it was maitai (good), and he was ready to receive instruction, and to worship Jehovah, as soon as Rihoriho (the king) should order it. All seems to hang on the word of the king. The government of these islands is an absolute monarchy; there is no law but the king's will. The king (Rihoriho) says to the missionaries and to us, that by and by he will tell his people that they must all learn the good word, and worship Jehovah; but that the missionaries must teach him first, and themselves get well acquainted with Hawaiian. But, alas! the king is slow to learn! Nevertheless these difficulties, and all others, we trust, will be overruled, and in due time removed, that the
LETTER FROM THE DEPUTATION
glorious gospel may have free course to promote the happiness of man, and the glory of God! Two weeks ago the names of twelve persons were given in, who appear to be sincerely attached to the word: so that, ere long, we hope the administration of Christian baptism to the natives will commence by the missionaries.
Extracts from a Letter addressed to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
'Oahu, Aug. 9, 1822.
• Beloved Brethren in Christ.-You have, we presume, been informed that the London Missionary Society have deputed two of their number to inquire into the state of their missions in the islands of the South Seas. We, whose names are subscribed to this letter, have the honor to form that deputation.
'When we sailed from England, in May, 1821, we had just received information that the Sandwich Islands had engaged your benevolent regards, and that you had sent missionaries to propagate the gospel in that interesting portion of the heathen world. While this important information filled our hearts with joy, and excited in our minds the most fervent prayers that success might attend your labors of love, we were encouraged to indulge the most extensive hopes, by hearing that idolatry had already fallen in those islands, and that the Great Head of the church had thus singularly prepared the way for his servants.
'But, though we felt the most lively interest in the success of your enterprise, we then entertained no hopes, not even the most remote, of visiting the Sandwich Islands; as such a visit made no part of the duties connected with our deputation. A mysterious and unerring Providence has, however, conferred on us a pleasure as great as it was unexpected, and placed us in circumstances that render it our duty to make you a communication; which we are happy to do from the house of your missionaries, in the island of Oahu.
'Allow us, dear brethren, to congratulate you on your having been directed, by the Great Head of the church, to
so valuable and pious a body of missionaries as those are whom you have sent to these islands. Their piety, their talents, their prudence, justify the confidence which you repose in them, and should cherish in your hearts the hope that their holy lives will put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, and tend powerfully to induce those who take knowledge of them to embrace that gospel which they are anxious to make known :—while their affectionate hospitality, and their kind and persevering endeavors to promote our comfort, confer on us a debt of gratitude which we can never repay. They are indeed burning and shining lights in the midst of this crooked and perverse nation; and we are confident that the time is not remote when many shall rejoice in their light.
'Our arrival appeared to be most opportune. Many false and injurious reports had been propagated here by some foreigners, respecting the state of religion in the Society islands, in order to prejudice the minds of the king, and chiefs, and people of these islands, against the gospel and the missionaries. Your missionaries had projected, a short time previous to our arrival, a voyage to the South Sea islands, accompanied by some of the chiefs, to ascertain the real state of things there; but the foreigners, by their influence, had prevented the vessel from sailing. At the time of our arrival, the people were laboring under the influence of the prejudices which the foreigners had produced among them. But our testimony to the wonderful work of God in the South Sea islands, together with that of the people who accompanied us, appears to have confounded the opposers, and confirmed the king, and chiefs, and people, in the confidence that the prejudices which had been excited were false and unfounded. We had no idea that this important object was to be answered by our voyage. Truly God is wonderful in counsel, and mighty in executing.
'One only of the chiefs who accompanied us, with his wife, remained at the house of the king of Tauai. But the king, and Kaahumanu, wife of the old Tamehameha, a woman of great influence in these islands, were so much pleased with the conduct of their visitors, that they gave them a strong invitation to continue with them, and not go to the Marquesas. Struck with this unexpected occurrence, and perceiving that great benefit might arise to the cause of re
TO THE AMERICAN BOARD OF MISSIONS.
ligion in these islands, from the residence of persons so pious and excellent as these are, and knowing that we could obtain others for the Marquesas, at the Society Islands, we were induced to consent to their remaining.
LETTER FROM THE DEPUTATION
'Soon after this, a meeting of several of the most important chiefs was convened by the king and queen of Tauai, to deliberate on the propriety of inviting Mr. Ellis, also, to join your missionaries, and take up his residence here with his wife and family. An invitation to that affect was therefore given to him. This, also, was most unexpected. On further inquiry, we found that his remaining here met with the decided approbation of the king, Rihoriho, also, and all the principal chiefs, and, what was still more in our estimation, of your missionaries.
'After taking the matter into serious consideration, and seeking direction from Him who alone can guide in the way of truth, we were induced to give our consent to Mr. Ellis's joining your mission, but still to remain in connection with the London Missionary Society, and to be supported by it. The following considerations influenced our minds to come to this decision :
"Your missionaries were laboring under great difficulties in acquiring the language of this people-difficulties which, we perceived, would not be surmounted for a considerable period. Mr. Ellis being intimately acquainted with the Tahitian language, which is radically the same with this, we were convinced that he would render essential service to your missionaries in this particular, and thus accelerate the period when they will be able to declare to these islanders, in their own tongue, the wonderful works of God-which is essential to their extensive usefulness. Our conjectures have been, in a measure, realized already, with regard to your missionaries; while Mr. Ellis has so much overcome the points in which these languages differ from each other as to be able, in so short a time, to preach fluently and intelligibly in the Hawaiian tongue, which he has done for several weeks.
'Another reason is-the wide field of usefulness which now presents itself in these islands, in connection with the most pleasing aspect which the state of the minds of the people affords. These islands are indeed apparently waiting for the Savior's law; these fields are white to the harvest, and the laborers are few. Justice and expediency seemed, there
TO THE AMERICAN BOARD OF MISSIONS.
fore, to require that we should consent to take a missionary from the South Sea islands, which are, comparatively, so well supplied, and give him to these, where so many thousands are waiting to be taught, but, alas! are perishing for lack of knowledge.
'Again; there appeared to us great suitableness in your missionaries being joined by one who had resided almost six years in those islands, where so glorious a work has been accomplished within that period, and in which he has taken an important share. His experience; his acquaintance with the most useful plans of operation; his knowledge of the Tahitian language, to which that of the Sandwich Islands bears a close analogy;-these considerations could not but have a great influence upon our decisions.
'Some foreigners, anxious to seize upon any thing that might tend to prejudice the natives against your missionaries, did not fail to suggest to them that, should they listen to their instructions, they would incur the displeasure of the English. By uniting an English missionary with yours, this objection will be removed; and, indeed, already has our visit produced the best effect in this particular.
'With the same design, these foreigners have spared no pains to misrepresent the work of religion in the South Sea islands, and have propagated the most infamous falsehoods; but a missionary who has been so long resident there, and who is well acquainted with all the circumstances of that great work, being upon the spot here, will prevent all future attempts of a similar kind.
But, however weighty these considerations, they would not have induced us to consent to Mr. Ellis's leaving the useful, important, and comfortable situation which he occupies at Huahine, in union with Mr. Barff, and joining your missionaries here, had not the finger of God most clearly indicated to us the path of duty; and this is made so remarkably plain, that not a shadow of a doubt can remain upon our minds that it is the will of God.
'DANIEL TYERMAN, 'GEORGE BENNET.'