Chapter X. Arrival of more Missionaries--Preaching in the villages--Ranghi--Dudi-dudi
Is the preceding chapter we have brought the:m or history of the Mission down to the end of the year 1828; and now, escaping for a while from tales of dangers, alarms, and fightings, we will enter the settlements themselves, and see what progress had been made, especially in spiritual things.
We will go back to the year 1824, when it had pleased the God of peace to send forth more messengers of peace, and to cheer the hearts and strengthen the hands of the earlier labourers by the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Clarke, Mr. and Mrs. E. Davis, and Mr. C. Davis. [All of these were farmers or mechanics; but all were men of piety, zeal, and intelligence, and devoted to the great work of bringing sinners to the Saviour. Mr. C. Davis was unhappily lost at sea some little time afterwards, in returning from Port Jackson.]
As the brethren had increased in number, so had they extended their spheres of labour; and while the outward aspect of the settlements had continually improved, so was there an advance in more Important things. Not only had the houses of, the Missionaries become more like the dwellings of civilized life, and [112/113] their gardens grown rich in vegetables, fruits, and flowers; but their schools had increased, the children were less frequently taken away, and were making fair progress in Scriptural knowledge as well as in rending, writing, and sewing. The fresh land that had been taken into cultivation afforded employment for a greater number of natives; these were encouraged to settle on the Mission property, and many of them attended an evening school, and seemed really anxious for instruction. At Keri-keri a small chapel was erected; and though in the seasons of excitement we have spoken of in the last chapter not more perhaps than two or three would be present at Divine worship, yet in quieter times there were often forty or fifty in the congregation, dressed in European clothes, and filling the Missionaries' hearts with hope by the attention with which they listened to the services; while, with regard to the brethren themselves, the dangers and anxieties they experienced, only served to quicken their zeal, to draw them more closely to ouch other in the bonds of Christian love, and to strengthen their confidence in their Covenant God. [The Missionaries encouraged the use of European clothing, by providing their school-children with it for their Sunday-wear, and by frequent presents of it to the adults in their employ. It became quite the fashion to wear something European on the Sunday, even in the villages, and though the articles were sometimes strangely misplaced, yet the feeling was a hopeful one.]
One little incident that occurred in April, 1826, made a considerable impression at Keri-keri. A. Christian chief from the newly evangelized Tahiti arrived on a visit to the settlement; and as his native tongue was so similar to that of the Maoris as to allow [113/114] of free communication, he readily acceded to the re quest of the Missionaries to address their people. With his Bible in his hand, this once blinded idolater stood before the assembled group; his face beamed with love, his voice trembled with emotion, while he read to them John iii. 16, 17, and told them of what Tahiti had been and what it now was. As he spoke to them of the mighty change that had been wrought upon himself and his countrymen, every eye was rivetted on him, and as ho urged them to turn to God, and prayed that the Holy Spirit might lead them to the Saviour, the Missionaries felt an earnest hope that his exhortations and his prayers would be blessed and answered.
How gladly would the brethren have given themselves wholly up to the spiritual instruction of these poor people! but secular objects still demanded their attention. Yet even in the midst of their manual occupations they ceased not to labour for souls, and the simplest employment gave opportunity for conversation on the highest subjects. A tree had just been felled; the weary Missionary sat down upon it, and calling his native fellow-workmen round him, spoke to them of the concerns of their souls.
There was however much direct Missionary work carried on during this time. Every Sunday afternoon was specially set apart for visiting the neighbouring villages, and the sight of a red flag at one village and a white one at another, hoisted in honour of the Ra-tapu, or consecrated day, often quickened the steps of the downcast Missionary, and warmed his heart to speak with more lively feeling of the things of God. It was seldom that he did not find some at least assembled [114/115] ready for him, and generally the whole village, men, women, and children, were gathered together. Here might be seen the old and the young, the sick and the blind, the chiefs and the slaves, seated in a semicircle-before their teacher, and listening to the words of life. At one place a plank was always brought for the Missionary to sit upon; at another, one of the calabashes was tapued, that the water he drank, might be always clean; and often he was not suffered to depart without partaking of their evening meal of kumeras, potatoes, and melons.
It is true that the gospel message was sometimes heard with apathy and unconcern; and the chiefs, rolled up in their mats, would stretch themselves on the ground as if half asleep;--and that, at other times, the only response would be, "We will receive your religion if you will insure our never dying. We are afraid of death, we cannot bear to part with our family and our friends, for we know not what will be in another world." Or perhaps they would say, 'White man's Atua very good for white man, but not for New Zealander; we will keep our own Atua." Yet the Missionaries still persevered, hoping that some seed of truth might unconsciously penetrate into their hard hearts, and occasionally the remarks of these wild men were in a very different tone, and might profit even a Christian's heart. "How happy you must be, said the people of Tepuke, on more than one occasion, to Mr. Davis, "to know that your Atua loves you, and that you have such a blessed place to go to when you die! We will listen to you, but our hearts very, very dark." Both Mr. W. Williams and Mr. Davis were much interested in Tepuke; and one or the other visited [115/116] it, if possible, every Sunday. The latter, writing on August 7th, 1825, says, "I was again at Tepuke; the chief was absent, but I spoke to those present on the subject of prayer. 'Our hearts are dark,' they answered, 'we do not know how to pray.' I asked them, 'Have you a desire for these things?' to which they replied, 'Our hearts are very big with desire.'" Just then Mr. Davis saw the absent chief with a number of other people running as hard as they could across the valley towards him; and found that he had been three miles off to remind the people of a distant hamlet of its being the Sabbath, and was now hurrying back, expecting to be in time to join in the service of the day. Soon after, another chief came up, excusing himself for the lateness of his arrival, by saying he had been fishing. Mr. Davis reproved him for this breach of the sacred day; to which he answered, "My heart is very sick about it, but I did not know it was the Ra-tapu." He then complained of his own village not having been visited for two or three Sundays; and would hardly be satisfied when told that it was the badness of the weather that had alone prevented any one from coming to him.
Tepuke was one of the most encouraging of the surrounding villages. The anxiety of the inhabitants for instruction, their regular observance of the Sabbath, their growing dislike of war, added to their recollection of Mr. Marsden's conversations, and the assurance of one of the chiefs that he had begun to pray for himself; all these things combined, led the Missionaries to hope and expect that this people would be among the first-fruits of their labour. But "God seeth not as man seeth." "The wind bloweth where it listeth;" and [116/117] as late as 1835, we only read that Tepuke was "in a very promising state."
Here we must pause for a moment, and call attention to, the readiness of these poor heathen to keep holy the Sabbath day. As we proceed, we shall find still more striking instances of it, and it is very remarkable that where the chiefs themselves observed the day, they permitted their slaves, to whom every other privilege was denied, to do the same, and work of every kind was suspended throughout the village. There were even cases of distant villages, that had never seen a Missionary, in which the people refrained from work merely on the report of other natives. In one of Mr. W. Williams' exploring journeys to the North, a chief near Whangaroa touchingly strengthened his urgent plea for a teacher on this very ground. "Send us," said he, "some one to teach us; we have no one, but we do all we can, we sit still on the Ra-tapu." [The same circumstance will doubtless be remembered with regard to the islands of the Pacific. Whence arises this willingness in uncivilized nations to observe a day of rest? Is there some undefined feeling that the physical frame requires it? or is it that the original appointment of God in the days of man's innocence still finds an unconscious response in his fallen and degraded heart? Whatever be the cause, how does the conduct of these unenlightened savages condemn those professing Christians who either themselves desecrate the holy day, or tempt others to do so!]
Still the Missionaries mourned over the unfruitfulness of their labours as to the conversion of souls. It had been comparatively easy to dig their fields and plant their gardens; and it was pleasant to gather tin; abundant produce;--to drop a peach-stone into the ground, and ere long to enjoy the delicious fruit; but to break up the fallow ground of the natural heart was beyond [117/118] their power; the heavens over them were as brass, and the earth as iron, for no dew of the Spirit had yet appeared to descend on the hard Maori heart; and they were made more and more to feel, as Mr. Williams expressed it, "how little control one man's heart has over another; it is the Spirit that quickeneth." And this Holy Spirit who quickeneth whom He will, first showed His Almighty power in an unexpected quarter. [There had been a hopeful appearance of a work of grace in a young man who died at Keri-keri in the autumn of 1824, and who, as his end approached, anxiously sought for instruction, begged Mr. Clarke to pray with him, and was often beard to pray by himself; but though his friends hoped and believed that God had mercy upon him, there was not sufficient evidence of a change of heart to show that it was a case of real conversion.]
One of the villages visited frequently from Paihia was Tiwalliwatte, where the Missionaries always received a hearty welcome from the aged chief Ranghi. The old man strictly observed the Ra-tapu himself, and the red flag, regularly hoisted on the sacred day, invited his people to observe it also. But for many months there was nothing in Eanghi's conversation or manner to indicate any peculiar interest in the gosjiel message, except that on one or two occasions he was observed to be more than usually attentive, and there appeared once even a shade of anxiety across his brow. But on July 17th, 1825, upon Mr. Williams and his companions paying him their accustomed visit, they found him ill with a sore throat and cough. Mr. Williams entered into conversation with him; and as the aged man spoke of Adam's first transgression, as the cause of all the pain and sorrow now in the world, the [118/119] Missionary's heart rejoiced to find how well he had profited by the instruction he had received. "What," continued Mr. Williams, "are your thoughts of death? "My thoughts," he answered, "are continually in heaven; in the morning, in the day-time, and at night they are there; my belief is in the great God, and in Jesus Christ." "But do you," asked the Missionary, "at times think that our God is not your Gob, and that you will not go to heaven?" "Yea, this is the way my heart sometimes thinks when alone; 1 think I shall go to heaven, and then I think perhaps I shall not go to heaven; and perhaps this God of the white people is not my God, and perhaps Ho is; and then after I have been thinking in this way, and my heart is dark for some time, then it becomes lighter, and the thought that I shall go to heaven remains the last." Afterwards he said, "I pray several times in the day; I ask God to give me His Holy Spirit in my heart to sit and dwell there." On a subsequent occasion he repeated the same doubts, but his hope seemed strengthening. "What do you think of the love of Christ? "I think of the love of Christ, and ask Him to wash this bad heart, and take away this native heart, and give me anew heart." "Do you ever attempt to teach your neighbours?" "Yes, I do, but they will not listen." After this his friends endeavoured to draw him aside to some of their superstitious observances; but he remained firm and stedfast in rejecting them. He gradually grew worse; but as the outward man decayed, the inner man seemed to grow stronger and stronger. September 11th, in the midst of much suffering he said, "I think I shall soon die, my flesh has wasted away, and I am only [119/120] skin and bone. I think I shall go to' heaven above the sky, because I have believed all that you have told me about God and Jesus Christ." "But what payment can you take to God for your sins against Him?" "I have nothing to give Him, only I believe in Him the true God, and in Jesus Christ."
Still his hope grew stronger. On the 11th, though worn down with weakness and pain, he turned his head as the Missionary entered, and in a faint voice, but with a look of joy and satisfaction, answered his inquiries with, "I shall soon be dead; my heart is very, very full of light." "What makes it so? " Because I believe in Jehovah, and in Jesus Christ." "Are you still firm in your belief?" "Have I not told you over and over again, that my faith is stedfast?" "Have you no fear of death?" "No, none, not in the least. I shall go and sit above the sky with Jesus Christ." Mr. Williams had before spoken to him of baptism, and now consulted with his brethren on the subject. They had watched his character and conduct for some months; they now saw his stedfastness on the verge of the grave, and his firm resistance of all the native superstitions; and though there was not that deep conviction of sin they would have desired, they all agreed that in the present early state of things, more satisfactory evidence could not be expected. He was therefore baptized by the name of Christian, in the presence of many of his countrymen, who seemed somewhat impressed with what they saw and heard. "To us," adds Mr. Williams, "it was a season of joy and gladness; a period to which I had been looking with great interest. Surrounded by those who would gladly have drawn him back, he boldly, in the presence of them all, spoke of [120/121] the darkness that once encompassed his soul, and of the sure and certain hope that now possessed it. Is not this a brand plucked from the burning?"
And now the Missionaries' hopes ran high that the long looked for harvest was close at hand, and that it would please God to show the power of His grace by bringing many more to a knowledge of Himself. But His time was not yet come, and His servants were called on to work, and pray, and wait, for two more years before they could discern any evidence of the dew of heavenly grace descending on their people. The outward improvement at Rangi-houa was very great. Mr. King says, "When I contrast former things with present, I am filled with wonder and thankfulness. The people are quite quiet and peaceable; the school-boys can answer correctly, when questioned on many points of Scripture knowledge; they repeat the Lord's Prayer and other short petitions, the Ten Commandments, and the Creed; they can sing some of the songs of Zion; and their parents are so pleased at their reading and writing, that when they want anything from the Missionaries they make the children write a note about it. But there are no marks of true conversion, no knowledge, even among the adults, of sin or of future punishment. They need precept upon precept, much patience, perseverance, and forbearance. Yet we do not despair--a change of heart is the work of the Holy Spirit, and we need not doubt His eventual blessing, if only we continue in well-doing."
This was written in November, 1826, when twelve long years had passed since Mr. King first landed at Rangi-houa,*--twelve years of indefatigable labour and [121/122] unwearied patience; but now a "blessing" was closer at hand than he anticipated. [Mr. Hall had been obliged to leave the Island in consequence of ill health, in April, 1825, to the great grief of the people, who had learnt to love him as a father and a friend.]
Among the young men who had been in the employ of Mr. Hall, and whom he had on his departure transferred to Mr. King, was Dudi-dudi. He was slave to one of the smaller chiefs of the village, having been captured in some war with the people of the south, and was hired from him by the Missionaries. Dudi-dudi, like the rest of the servants, had had great pains taken with him; he had learnt to read and write, could repeat several hymns and prayers, he could correctly answer questions upon several points of Christian doctrine, and was faithful and diligent in his work. Yet his heart remained unchanged, he hated the light, and continued to find his pleasure in the ways of ungodliness. He fell sick; and, with a sense of right and wrong we should hardly have expected, he told Mr. King that as he could not work it was not fair that he should eat, and proposed returning to his master. Mr. King, who valued his faithful services, and felt really interested in him, and saw that he was never likely to recover, told him in reply that he would not turn him away, that he was free to go if he wished it, but if not, he should remain with him, and be supplied with whatever he might want. The poor fellow was overjoyed; he knew full well that had he gone back to his master, everything, even to his blanket, would have been taken from him; he would have been put into some shed away from the village, and had only fern-root and water given him. But neither his illness, nor this unexpected alleviation, led his heart to God; he [122/123] continued dead in sin, and turned away from all personal instruction. In this state he continued for some months, too ill to work, but not too ill to get about; when early in 1827 it happened that a war expedition returned home from the South with its usual train of miserable captives. Dudi-dudi's feelings were moved as he looked on them, and thought of his own former sufferings; and he listened with interest and attention to a very serious and solemn address made by Mr. King to the chiefs, on the certain consequences of these and all other evil courses.
They were no new truths that were now brought forward; Dudi-dudi had repeatedly heard the same warnings and the same invitations; but they had hitherto merely lain on the surface of his heart, or been "caught away" by the enemy of his peace. Now however the Spirit of God was effecting a mighty change in him; the truths were carried home, and pierced his inmost soul as with an arrow. "When the commandment came, sin revived," and he as it were: "died,"--his indifference was changed into an abhorrence of his former evil ways; and a deep sorrow for his wilful blindness under the means of grace, succeeded to a careless unconcern. His distressed heart found relief only in prayer; and "Give me, Lord, Thy Holy Spirit to cleanse my heart;--Take from me all darkness and enlighten my mind;--Wash me in the blood of Thy dear Son, and take me to heaven when I die." These and such like petitions were continually heard when he thought himself alone; and our prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God listened to the cry of this poor youth; an assurance of pardon and acceptance in the [123/124] Beloved was vouchsafed him, and his soul was filled with joy and peace.
During the last five months of his life, though doubts and fears occasionally crossed his mind, the light of God's countenance was never long withheld from him; and the last days of his earthly pilgrimage were full of confident hope and lively joy. "I am not afraid to die," said he to Mr. Shepherd, "for I am sure that God loves me, and will save me." "How can you expect that? for God cannot but punish sinners." "Yes," replied Dudi-dudi, "but God gave His Son to die for sinners, and I believe in Jesus Christ." "The Sunday before he died," wrote Mr. King, "I went to him early in the morning. Before I could speak, he said with a calm and cheerful countenance, 'I am not afraid to die now, though I have often been afraid; but I will wait patiently and bear the pain till God is pleased to take my soul, which is now light and joyful; for God is loving to me.' I said to him, 'fear not, believe in Jesus; pray to Him, and resign thy soul into His hands. He will receive it.' Ho said, 'Last night, through pain of body, I forgot to pray before I fell asleep, and when I woke my heart began inquiring, '"Where is Jesus Christ? where is Jesus Christ, who died for me? Then my soul rejoiced and praised God, and prayed Him to forgive me my sin and forgetfulness. I shall soon be in heaven.' "In this happy state he continued, his heart, as he expressed it, "leaping for joy," when any one came to talk to him of heavenly things, till, on the 14th of August, 1827, his spirit departed to be with Christ, leaving Mr. King to rejoice with humble thankfulness at this the first-fruits of his unwearied labours.