Chapter XII. Spirit of inquiry at the settlements--Betsey--New station formed at Waimate
The spirit of inquiry, which we spoke of in the preceding chapter, proved to be no transient emotion; it continued steadily to pervade, in a greater or less degree, most of the natives at the three different settlements. Sixteen adults had been baptized at Paihia before the close of the year 1830, and others had been received into the visible church at Keri-keri and Rangi-houa. This earnestness was not confined to the men alone; many of the women and elder girls were awakened to a serious concern for their souls; and Mr. Davis' eldest daughter devoted much of her time and energies to the assistance of those at Paihia. Every evening found this young, but devoted and loving, disciple of her Lord gathering them around her for instruction and prayer; and a few particulars of one of her youthful pupils will serve as a specimen of the blessing vouchsafed to her labours.
In 1825, a poor sickly, dull-looking slave girl had been brought to Mr. Davis by her father with a request that he would take her into his service. He did so; and good food, kind treatment, and careful training soon so improved her that she became a valuable and [138/139] useful servant, though she never showed any great aptitude for learning. Por some months before the baptism of Taiwunga and his companions, Betsey, as she was called, had appeared more thoughtful than usual, but whatever her friends might hope about her, she was silent, and they refrained from speaking to her on the subject. A few days, however, after the bap-tisms had taken place, she went to Miss Davis, and with great earnestness told her she could no longer delay, but must give herself to God at once; at the same time requesting her to meet her fellow-servants and herself that evening to talk to them on the exceeding love of Cubist in dying for them. Miss Davis joyfully acceded to this request; and agreed t'j meet them twice a week in private, in addition to their receiving her more general evening instruction. Betsey rapidly grew in religious knowledge, as well as in grace; and was baptized on April 11th, 1830, on one of those occasions at which Mr. Marsden was present. Not very long after her baptism, the poor girl was taken ill, and symptoms of consumption began to show themselves. She was quite aware of the nature of her complaint, and was able to look with an unshrinking eye to the termination of her earthly pilgrimage. Her affection for Miss Davis was unbounded; and she was most anxious for the salvation of others, more especially for that of her two companions in the house. Over one of these, who showed but little interest in spiritual things, she would often weep, and say, "Oh Tuari, Tuari, it will not be long before I am gone from you, and why do you not believe? Do you think God will not listen to your prayers? Yes, He will, for His love is great, it is not like the love of this [139/140] world that passeth away, it lasteth for ever." At other times she would urge her only to try the "good things of God, for I know," she would say, "if you go the right way to find Christ, you will love Him too well to leave Him again; he will hide your sins in His sepulchre, He will wash your heart in His blood and when you are washed from your sins, you will be happy, but not till then." To the other girl, Rama, who made a great profession of religion, she spoke differently; urging her not to be satisfied with an empty show, but to seek for a real change of heart.
As the poor girl's health continued to decline, her mind became more spiritual; she could not endure any vain or trifling conversation; and in a tone of gentle reproof would say, "These things will do you no good when Jesus comes to judgment. Satan is now covering yon with a thick darkness, but perhaps when I am gone, Jehovah will let the rays of His Sun dispel it from before your eyes, and then all will be light, and joy, and peace." The constant visits of Miss Davis to her sick-bed were very refreshing to her. "I am very hungry," she would say, "read with me and pray with me." One day she said, "I am not afraid to die, but read to me what St. Paul says about death." "How is it," asked Miss Davis, "that you are not afraid to die?" "Because," she replied, "Christ died for me; He passed the lonely road before me, and He will be with me;" adding, "it is only now that I have seen the great love of Ciihist in giving Himself to die for our sius." Another day she was asked if she wished to recover. "No," she answered, "for I should sin again, and make God angry. When I think of my former sins, it makes my heart very dark and sorrowful; but [140/141] then I pray, and God hides my sins from me, and puts His Spirit into my heart, and that makes it light again." As her end drew near, her sufferings increased, but her calm patience continued unmoved. "Your pain is great," said her kind friend to her. "Yes, my pain is great, but it is nothing to what my Saviour suffered. I feel happy; Christ is waiting at the end of the road, I want to go." One day she fell asleep while Miss Davis was reading to her. When she awoke, she said, "Why did you let me go to sleep? it is but a little while, and I shall hear you read no more." Seeing her young friend much affected, she added, "Marianne, do not grieve, we shall be separated but for a little while. Do not leave me; come, sit down and talk to me about heaven." Her short bright course was now almost run; and on September 17th she was evidently dying. Takinc the hand of her to whom she owed so much, in a faint whisper she bade her farewell. "Farewell!'' answered Miss Davis, "you are going to Jesus." "Yes," replied she, "I am light, light." Soon after this she drew a deep sigh; and the ransomed spirit of the Maori slave girl had passed into the presence of Him who had purchased her with His own blood.
It would seem as though the death of Betsey made an impression upon others. Two days after, the wife of Rawiri, (Taiwunga,) following the example of her husband, came forward to be baptized; Kama too, the girl for whom she had been so anxious, became more earnest in religion, and a few months later followed her friend in death. Her end was also peace.
The details of the work of Divine grace in the hearts of many of the natives at the three settlements about this time are very interesting, and prove, if proof were [141/142] needed, that whether the people of God are gathered from the East or the West, the North or the South, "it is the same God that worketh all in all."--They continued earnestly to seek personal intercourse with liie various Missionaries, to lay before them their doubts and difficulties, and to seek advice and direction. Sometimes they found they could more freely express themselves in writing, and a note frequently found its way to one or another of their instructors. The following is the translation of one of these:--"Brother of Mr. Williams, I think much of Jesus Christ; His love to my heart is very great; I am a very bad man. My sins were lately very many, but they have been taken away by Jesus Christ. His love does not disappear. The affection towards Him in my heart is very great. I cannot hide the affection of my heart. The joy of the Holy Spirit in my heart is very great. "Because 1 have a great heart I write to you, although man says, 'Is it true indeed that Jesus Christ will come to look at my heart?' [Does he mean his own natural heart?] I pray constantly to Him by night and by day; when I go to sleep I pray to Him; in the morning I pray to Jehovah our Father. My heart is sore on account of the sacred words of Jesus Christ, which are suppressed by us. By-and-bye, in the evening, I will pay you a visit. This letter is written by me, Wakarae."
The anxiety for the salvation of their countrymen was very great, both among the baptized and the candidates for baptism, and either by themselves, or in company with one of the brethren, they frequently visited the surrounding villages. [In the summer of 1831, the baptized natives at Paihia obtained permission to hold a weekly prayer-meeting among themselves, and one of the usual subjects of their prayers was that they might themselves become Missionaries to their countrymen.] But as yet the dew of the Holy Spirit had fallen only within the settlements, and all around was dry.
We have before said that one of the subjects that occupied Mr. Marsden's mind during his visit to the Island in 1830 was, the formation of a new settlement; and Waimate, the former residence of Hongi, was fixed upon, as the land appeared well fitted for agriculture, and its inland position removed it, in great measure, from the baneful-influence of the European shipping. This part of the country too was less depopulated than most of the surrounding districts; for it was long since the fierce Ngapuis had suffered any invader to attack their territory, and Hongi's wars had been carried on among distant tribes. [There were above 2000 natives in scattered villages within five miles of the settlement.]
A considerable quantity of land was purchased from the chiefs in a favourable situation, bounded on one side by a beautiful river, and intersected by two small streams. The Ngapuis were extremely pleased with the idea of having resident Missionaries among them; for though they had frequently been visited from Keri-keri, yet these visits were necessarily irregular, and the people complained that the instructions they received were forgotten before they saw their teachers again.
At a meeting held for the purpose of completing the purchase, an old chief rose and made a speech to the rest: "Be gentle," said he, "with the Missionaries, for they are gentle with you; do not steal from them, [143/144] for they do not steal from you; let them sit in peace on the ground they have bought, and let us listen to their advice and come to their prayers. Though there are many of us, Missionaries and natives, let us be all one, all one, all one. This is all I have to say."
Waimate was twelve miles inland from Keri-keri, and before it could be occupied as a permanent station, a cart road must be cut through the intervening wood and jungle, and bridges must be built across the Waitangi and another river. [The cart was a subject of astonishment to the natives, who had never before seen any wheeled conveyance; and a little later the plough excited almost as much admiration.]
All however was set about with earnestness and activity; and early in 1831, as soon as any tolerable shelter could be constructed, Mr. Clarke, Mr. R. Davis, and Mr. Hamlin proceeded to take up their abode there with their families; and were joined, in the course of the same year, by other labourers.