ALL who are interested in the Melanesian Mission will rejoice to hear of the consecration of the chapel built in thankful memory of John Coleridge Patteson, Missionary Bishop and martyr, which took place on the 7th December, the octave of the feast of St. Andrew. This event had long been looked forward to by those engaged in the mission, as well as the friends who contributed to the memorial. To them the realization in all its fullness of his desire to rear a church, the beauty of which should exceed anything known to these islanders, is the fittest memorial that loving hands could raise to one who himself was so keenly alive to the beautiful. Richness of material combined with the highest artistic skill of the day have succeeded in carrying out a design which certainly is without equal in the southern hemisphere. The Chapel, though not completed, had been used for some months past, as the old temporary one attached to Bishop Patteson's house could not accommodate the large increase of scholars. It had been intended that the consecration should be on St. Andrew's Day, but the delay in the arrival of the mission ship "Southern Cross," with the special visitors from Auckland, prevented this being carried out. The "Southern Cross" had been courteously placed at the disposal of the visitors invited by Bishop Selwyn. The party numbered forty-one, amongst whom were the Bishop of Waiapu, Archdeacon Maunsell, the Rev. Dr. Kinder, warden of St. John's College, Auckland, the Rev. B. T. Dudley, formerly of the Melanesian Mission, and four other clergymen of the Diocese of Auckland, the Rev. C. Elcum, chaplain to the Bishop of Adelaide, and two Maori clergymen--the Rev. Renata Tangata, priest of the Diocese of Auckland, and the Rev. Keriliona Te Apai, a deacon of the diocese of Waiapu, who acted as chaplain to the Bishop of Waiapu. Amongst the lay visitors were Mr. Yonge, a cousin of the lady of that name, who has given such substantial aid to the mission, and the writer of Bishop Patteson's life, and Miss Aitkin, sister of the Rev. Joseph Aitkin, who shared in the martyrdom of Bishop Patteson at Nukapu, besides friends of various members of the mission staff, and others taking an interest in the work. Thursday, November 25th, was the day fixed for leaving Auckland, and at eleven a.m. the party accompanied by friends formed a large concourse on the wharf. The weather was all that could be desired; all seemed in good spirits. A steamer was waiting to carry us to the mission ship lying out in the stream. The Bishop of Auckland and Mrs. Cowie stood on either side [of] the gangway wishing a hearty good-bye to each one who stepped on board the small steamer, which moved off amid the cheers of those on shore. The "Southern Cross" seemed hardly large enough for the crowd of visitors who boarded her, and who looked around, wondering where they were to be stowed away. Before long, however, we had somehow fitted in--the ladies in the saloon-cabin used by the mission staff; as well as the small cabin adjoining, the gentlemen in the cabin used by the Melanesians. Meals were served in the respective quarters. There was little progress made during that day owing to the breeze being light; in fact by evening we were not out of Auckland harbour but all enjoyed themselves as on a yachting voyage. Evening service on deck closed the day, and the chaunt of the Nunc Dimitis and the evening hymn died away in the twilight as the vessel glided through the still water. There was a solemnity in the thought that the vessel was consecrated to no common use, and a sense of safety surrounded the "Southern Cross." Pleasant talk and singing on deck filled up the evening, and all agreed that this was indeed a pleasure trip. The small engine was constantly in use, as otherwise we should have been becalmed.
For three days little progress was made, owing to the wind being very contrary, and the engines only able to steam three knots an hour. It was not till the fourth day that the New Zealand coast was out of sight. Service on deck marked each day's commencement and close, a shortened form of Morning and Evening Prayer being used, under the Bishop of Waiapu's direction; each of the clergymen on board took part in these services during the voyage. The Venite, Te Deum, and Magnificat, as well as the Gloria Patri, were always chanted, the Gregorian tones and hymns being led by the Rev. C. Elcum, who acted as precentor. The captain and crew joined heartily in these services, even to the man at the wheel, who was observed taking his part in the singing and responses. Irreverence or foul language is unknown amongst the sailors, who are chosen for good character as well as seamanship, and take a personal interest in the mission. On St. Andrew's Day there was a full Morning Service, with sermon by the Bishop of Waiapu, himself for many years a missionary in India; the hymns sung were those for the day: "Jesus calls us o'er the tumult," and "Onward Christian Soldiers," the latter being sung with marked enthusiasm. At Evening Service the special prayer for the Melanesian mission was used, and at the conclusion of the service the hymn "From Greenland's Icy Mountains" was sung to the tune of Aurelia, just as a magnificent sunset cast a flood of light across the ocean. There was a special fitness in the lines--
"Waft, waft ye winds His story
And you ye waters roll,
Till like a sea of glory
It spreads from pole to pole."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Norfolk Island was sighted at day-break on Thursday, December 2nd, after a week's voyage from Auckland. As we drew near we found there were two other islands close to the mainland. Phillip Island, a massive rock, its gorgeous colouring of brilliant red towering above the bluest of seas, and the smaller Nepean Island, flat and bare, with two rugged pine trees as its only vegetation. Then Norfolk Island itself. There was a tremendous sea running at the time, and the waves were dashing up clouds of spray against the bold, gable-shaped cliffs, showing every variety of colour, in the richest reds and purples, up to the grassy pine-clad heights above. The stiff conventional-looking trees which in our gardens bear the name of their island give no idea of the softness attained by masses when exposed to strong, frequent winds, and consequently more rugged and uneven. Seen thus from a distance, they recall the pines on the Swiss mountains. This was especially the case on the day when we first saw Norfolk Island--a cloudy morning, with the mists hanging about Mount Pitt, the one hill of the island, which attains a height of one thousand feet, and is wooded to the top. Here and there glints of sunshine broke through the clouds above, lighting up the pine trees, and revealing the lovliest grassy glades amongst them. Anything more beautiful than the appearance of the island could hardly be imagined. We soon sighted the settlement of the quondam Pitcairners, but could barely distinguish the houses as the surf was breaking into thick clouds of spray. At first we feared we would have to stand out to sea, which is not an uncommon occurrence, there being no harbour or even roadstead at Norfolk Island, but a signal was flying to tell us to go round to the "Cascades", on the north side of the island, where a landing can often be effected which not practicable at the township, which is on the south side. Norfolk Island is about nine miles in length by four in breadth. It presents the appearance of one large undulating park. The principal tree, after the well-known pine, which here attains a great size, is one called the white oak, in form and colour recalling the olive tree of Italy, and the wild lemon tree laden with golden fruit. A shrub with a brilliant yellow flower, also a native of New South Wales, and found in great abundance on the Kurrajong Range there, also abounds, and a variety of solanum, called wild tobacco, from some resemblance in the leaf. The frequent difficulty in landing accounts for the little communication which Norfolk Island has with the outer world, as vessels are frequently blown out to sea, and not heard of for days, or even weeks. The Norfolkers hardly look on this as a disadvantage, preferring not to be disturbed by contact with others, which to the mission it is a decided advantage. The "Norfolkers," as the former "Pitcairners" are now called, are excellent boatmen, being as much at home on water as on land, so that landing when practicable is attended with little or no danger, and only the inconvenience of a wetting. Anything grander than the basaltic rocks seen as we rounded the island to the north would be difficult to imagine, the dark masses surmounted with the most brilliant green. To our relief the sea was less rough here, and the captain ran in for shore. Between the hills a grassy glade slopes down to the shore, and a stream of water pouring over a rock into the sea, in the manner of the "chines" in the Isle of Wight, gives the name cascades. The vessel lay-to at a short distance from the shore, where we could discern several figures through a glass. One of the large whaleboats of the Norfolkers came off with several fine-looking men pulling her. They take off three of the mission party who have returned with us from Auckland, Mr. Kaye amongst them. A short thanksgiving service is just concluded on deck, when we see another whaleboat approaching, with a well-known form standing in the stern steering, in shirt sleeves and wide-awake hat. "The Bishop" is the one word as we crowd to the side of the vessel, and a ringing cheer greets his arrival. One moment and he springs on deck amid a hearty welcome, greets each guest individually and when the two Maori clergymen were presented, he said, with a warm shake of the hand that he "was glad to see the sons of his Father," referring to his Father's love of the Maori race. And now the first boat is loaded for the shore, the Bishop himself holding on to the ladder, lets us down the ship's side with one hand, and with the other hands down portmanteaus, bags, etc., while the great whaleboat tosses like a cockleshell below. "Now then for the ladies," and down they go. When a good boatload is packed in, we pull for the shore, leaving the Bishop to ship the remainder off. The last words we hear are: "When you get to the landing place, wait till those on shore have hold of you; don't jump till you're told, and then jump like a maniac." Our boat goes up and down on the great waves as they roll us towards shore, and soon we find where the tremendous jump has to be made, for the waves are dashing over the rocks, to one of which, watching for the moment when it is uncovered, we have to spring, while the boat dances about like a cork. There is quite a crowd of dark faces watching eagerly for the moment to seize us, and well they do it too. About fifty of the boys had come down with the Revs. Palmer, Bice, Penny, and Commins, to welcome us. They had brought all the carts and conveyances of the island to take us up to St. Barnabas', about five miles distant. Immediately on landing the boys take our luggage from the boat, each shouldering a portmanteau or bag, which they carry to a central heap, and then run down to the rocks for more. All this is done in the greatest order--no directions being given--evidently each knowing what was expected and being ready. And now as we stand under the great rocks towering up above us, waiting till all are, landed, we have time to look at the boys who stand round us in a very fearless way. Bright intelligent faces under the thick woolly hair, in which is stuck a scarlet hibiscus or some bright-coloured flower. Hats are not to be seen--and would only be incumbrances to those accustomed to the full blaze of a tropical sun. They all wear Galatea shirts and dark blue trousers. Through a hole bored in the right ear they wear a delicately carved bamboo sick about four inches [1/2] long, this appears to be a Melanesian custom. While from the other ear hang tortoiseshell rings and a variety of articles, some of the new comers having the ear quite weighed down with them. The one characteristic is their perfect confidence--so different to the attitude of the islanders seen on the trading ships, who almost invariably have a cowed look and frightened timid manner. One of our party who sat down to sketch soon had an admiring group round him. At length all get safe to shore, and we start for the Mission Station, some riding, some driving, and some walking. All are struck with the exceeding beauty of the island, which opens out like a Paradise before us, with its plantations of bananas and graceful tree ferns here and there amongst the dark pines. Several of the boys accompany the walkers and guides, and walking fearlessly by our side, answer enquiries as to localities, and supply Mota words for the various objects. On our way were others coming to meet us, walking in twos and threes with their arms round one another, looking quite at their ease and evidently greatly pleased to see us. Further on we met Mr. Codrington with some half dozen boys. Our road had lain over grassy slopes amongst lemon trees, the fruit of which was most refreshing, being less acid than the Lisbon lemon, and was free to be plucked growing wild. At one part, the road lay between graceful tree ferns, which formed a delicious shade. On reaching Longridge, with the exception of Mount Pitt the highest spot on the island, about the centre of the island, a glorious view burst upon us--a sea of a blueness only seen in the tropics, and around us as it were one lovely park, from this an avenue of pines, a mile in length, leads to the mission station. These really splendid trees were planted in the old convict days; the roads, which are excellent, also date form that time. A white gate marks the boundary of the mission property, and soon the newly built stone chapel, with a group of wooden buildings round it, tell that at last we are at St. Barnabas, the head quarters of the Melanesian Mission. The roads runs through the little settlement, the chapel being on one side of an open grass space, which has somewhat the appearance of a "quad;" the printing house, kitchen, hall, (where school is conducted and all meet for meals) and one of the mission houses being on the other sides. Close by, and separated only flower beds is Bishop Patteson's house, now occupied by Mr. Penny, with the old chapel attached, also the houses occupied by Mr. Codrington, Mr. Commins, and Mr. Ruddock together. Across the road are the houses of the Bishop, in which Mr. and Mrs. Kaye also live at present, Mr. Palmer, Mr. Bice, and Mrs. Colenso, the active teacher and superintendent of the girls, also the cottages of the married couples, each a neat two-roomed building. The houses occupied by the mission staff are of wood, weatherboarded, all one-storied, with wide verandahs round the house, into which all the rooms open by French windows. It is characteristic of the mission that there are no hall doors, as they all live like one family, going in and out of one another's houses. Each house has its own garden fenced in, which is one mass of flowers, roses, fuschias, geraniums, the large scarlet hibiscus and pink oleanders all growing with rich luxuriance, white clematis, stephanotis, and jasmine twine round the verandah posts. The capacity of the houses was put to a severe test by the arrival of so many visitors, but all were comfortably accommodated. Some of the married people's cottages being vacant were portioned out to those guests who could not be taken into the house, while the old Chapel was turned into a barrack for the occasion for the overflow of gentlemen. It was no slight strain on the commissariat to provide for forty in addition to the usual party, but under Mr. Penny's skilful management it was equal to the occasion. The unfailing kindness and courtesy of the members of the mission staff will long be gratefully remembered by their guests.
Dinner soon brought us together in "Hall," where it is the custom of the mission staff to meet for all meals. During the week of our stay it had been arranged that, except on Sunday and the Consecration Day, the Melanesians should have their meals separately, the number of visitors rendering it inconvenient to follow the usual arrangement of all having meals together. The building is a large, lofty, well-ventilated one, with a long table down the centre, where all the teachers, Europeans, and Melanesians sit together. The scholars sit at smaller side-tables; the women and girls have one to themselves. It is not the custom to have any waiters, it being a principle of the mission not in any way to make servants of the Melanesians, but all to live as one family. During our stay, however, some of the older boys waited on their guests, and capitally they did it too. These boys, having been in Sydney and Auckland, where they had received some attention, thus gracefully returned it. It was amusing to see the eagerness with which they noticed the wants of those on whom they waited and hastened to supply them. After lunch we went over to see the chapel, the centre of attraction during our stay. We had been somewhat disappointed with the first sight of the exterior, the general impression being heavy. This is perhaps owing to the massive stone buttresses, and overhanging roof, the latter intended to shade the windows, but this was forgotten the moment we entered the chapel. Gothic in style, with a semi-circular apse raised some feet above the nave, the proportions are remarkably fine, the pitch of the roof being 45 feet, the length 80 feet by 27 wide, of solid stone, with the exception of the west gable, and gable of the organ chamber and vestry, which are of wood, weatherboarded. The effect of the whole is extremely massive, which is added to by the principal rafters being supported by solid posts of wood between the windows. The architect in England, being under the impression that the place was subject to tornadoes and cyclones, added these by way of strength. Most of the stone used is quarried in the island--a yellowish brown sandstone. In the apse there are alternative courses of white stone from Oamaru (Canterbury, New Zealand). This is also used for the windows. The shafts of those in the apse are of Devonshire marble, the capitals having been beautifully carved by Mr. Codrington. The windows in the apse are five in number and of uncommon beauty. They represent the four Evangelists, with our Blessed Lord in the centre in the act of blessing, with the words, "Rex Omnipotens" below. They were made in England, by Mr. W.G. Morris, from designs by Burne Jones, and are the gift of the Dowager Viscountess Downe. The chapel is seated lengthways, as a college chapel, with a wide aisle between, paved with beautiful black and white Devonshire marble. This, together with the magnificent font of black and red marble, which stands at the entrance, was the gift of Bishop Patteson's sisters and near relatives. The pavement of the apse, and steps leading up to it, is also of Devonshire marble of a richer pattern, and is given as a memorial of the Rev. Stephen Freemantle, first honorary secretary of the mission at Oxford, by his school and college friends. A handsome brass plate let into the pavement records the fact. The cloth of the Holy Table was presented by Miss Martyn, a relative of Bishop Patteson, and is of the richest work; it is of dark crimson velvet and silk. In the centre is a gold cross surmounted by a crown. On either side are lilies in the martyr's palm. On the super frontal are worked in large gold letters, the words in Mota--
LOG RANOGA GOD VAVO TUKA
(Glory to God in the highest). It will be observed that the word GOD is in English, instead of the native name for Spirit being used as in Maori. Bishop Patteson thought it better to retain the English words GOD, LORD, JESUS CHRIST, etc., than to use the equivalents profaned by heathen worship.
Above the Altar, on which stood two vases of the choicest flowers is a reredos or screen of black walnut wood, gothic design, most richly carved. There are three panels of Mosaic in Byzantine style. Ecclesiastical emblems in colours on a gold background. In the centre panel is a large cross, the woodwork forming a canopy above the panels. This is the gift of a Mr. Gibbs in England. The Apse is hung with the richest curtains of dark blue watered silk, embroidered with a vine, while in the corners are shields bearing the arms of Bishop Patteson and Commodore Goodenough, with the palm branch crossed. These were given by Mrs. Goodenough. Other friends have worked the kneeling cushions, etc. The organ was sent from England by Miss Yonge, the writer of Bishop Patteson's life, who has given such munificent help to the Mission ever since its commencement. It was built by Willis, of London, and has 500 pipes. It is a remarkably sweet-toned one, and is usually played by Mr. Bice or one of the boys. The lectern is the sandal-wood one used by Bishop Patteson, first at Kohimarama, afterwards brought to Norfolk Island. The seats for the nave, given by Bishop Selwyn in memory of his wife, are not yet finished, meanwhile forms are used. The present lamps are to be superseded by some coming from England. At the west end over the door, is a remarkably fine rose window; below it is in the centre a representation of Phillip baptising the Eunuch, and on either side, separated by two small foliated windows, St. John and St. Stephen. This is also the work of Morris after Burne Jones. The window is the gift of the late and present members of the Mission in memory of those of their number who had lost their lives in the work, viz., The Rev. Joseph Alkin [sic], and Stephen Taroaniana [sic] of San Christovoal [sic], who were killed at the same time as Bishop Patteson, and Edwin Nobbs and Fisher Young, who were shot by arrows at Santa Cruz in 1864.
On the western wall is a large brass tablet in memory of Bishop Patteson, bearing the following inscription, written by Sir John Coleridge, Lord Chief Justice of England:--
The richness, and at the same time, subdued tone of colouring throughout the chapel is most remarkable. In fact, the perfect harmony of [2/3] the whole is its distinctive feature. At the entrance is a porch the width of the building, with shingled roof supported by wooden pillars. The only external ornaments are a plain wooden cross at the west end, and one of wrought iron above the apse. The bell tower has been postponed for the present.
After we had looked admiringly on the beauty and fitness of the Chapel, which I described in my last, the organist, who had come with our party from Auckland, tried the new organ, sent by Miss Yonge, and all were delighted with the richness of its tones. A good many of the boys had gathered near the door, and came stealing in, sitting down quietly, and listening with evident enjoyment, for they have a keen appreciation of music. Clement who often plays himself at the daily services, was in an ecstasy of delight, and told Mr. Codrington afterwards that he "trembled all over." They had never heard such good playing, the organ only recently having been put up. Then the various clergymen kindly showed us over to their houses, each in its lovely garden of flowers. The houses are one-storied cottages, very comfortable and nicely finished, with verandahs all around, on to which the French windows stand open day and night, for there are no hall doors there. Pretty, cosy little places they are, with books and photographs and pictures showing the taste of the owner--some of these re-called college rooms at home, with old college and school associations about. Each of the unmarried clergy has a certain number of boys like the "house" of an English Public School master, while the girls are stationed out amongst the married ladies, by whom they are taught housework, etc. The boys sleep in large dormitories, but come in and out of the sitting rooms like children of the house. While we were being shown the various possessions of the owners, several boys came quietly in at the open windows, as if they were quite at home, not crowding, but standing quietly about, looking at things, or talking to one another, while the missionary would put his arm round a boy standing near him, just as if he were his son or younger brother. There is no restraint in their intercourse, and yet perfect discipline is maintained. No commentary could give so complete an idea of "perfect love casteth out fear." And this, to those who know the natural timidity of these islanders, was the more wonderful. The boys are accustomed to treat the missionary with whom they live as a father, and will steal into his room in the evening to ask counsel or advice, or to tell out the new thoughts and ideas that crowd into these heretofore dark minds. They will kneel down by his bed to say their morning and evening prayer, if they have not gone quietly into the Chapel, and knelt there in silent worship, for the Chapel doors are never shut at St. Barnabas', and the Melanesian boys are accustomed to see it used for private prayer. Bishop Patteson's rooms still remain much as they were, though now occupied by Mr. Penny. The walls of the sitting room are lined with his books, many of them in foreign languages, showing the cultured taste of their former owner. Over the mantelpiece is the engraving of Raphael's Last Supper, and opposite to it the large head of our Blessed Lord, both specially mentioned in his letters. Photographs and engravings of several members of his family hang round the room. Doors covered with red cloth open into the old chapel. Those who have read Bishop Patteson's life will remember that during his illness he was thus able to join the chapel services. To those who reverence anything connected with him it was touching to see the very objects mentioned in his home letters, the furniture of the room, the lovely view from it looking over a fertile valley to Mount Pitt, the one hill of the Island with its wooded sides, and the jasmine and honeysuckle twining round the verandah posts and up the sides of the steps as of old. The favourite stephanotis had gone, having died down some time ago.
At length the tea bell summons us again to "Hall," when seventy-five sit down--without Melanesians--and the table suggests a table d'hôte as we glance down. The mission staff appear to be thoroughly enjoying the unwonted intercourse, which, as one of them remarked, "will oil the wheels for a long time to come."
At seven the bell rings for evening chapel, for every day begins and ends with service there. As we near the chapel we see boys coming in on all sides, with books in hand. They enter quietly, reverently, and kneel each in his accustomed place. Soon the chapel is filled, the seats near the door being reserved for the visitors, and the clergy walk in and take their place, preceded by one of the elder scholars, who is to read the lesson in a surplice. A shortened form of evening prayer, in Mota, is read by one of the clergy, the lesson by the scholar, a native of Florida, and under instruction for Deacon's Orders, and the concluding prayers by the Bishop who wears a surplice on ordinary occasions. The Psalms for the evening, from a table drawn up by Bishop Patteson, were chaunted as well as the Magnificat, Mr. Bice being organist, and better singing could not be heard in any English church, the whole 200 singing with one voice, and very softly, swelling out in full for the Gloria. There was something very touching in the sight of these children of the isles brought in from the darkness to the light of the Lord, and worshipping in His Sanctuary. A fitting type of the beauty of holiness is this temple in their island home. Northing could exceed their reverence of behaviour throughout and the responses were joined in with a heartiness that astonished visitors from Christian lands! Immediately before the closing prayer, the Bishop read a prayer for the islands, from which scholars had come, naming each island by name. He seemed especially to dwell on the name of Santa Cruz, the islands that have cost the mission so much, even its very life blood, but where now, thank God, he has at length planted his foot, and thus had his revenge. The Bishop of Waiapu then gave an address to the Melanesians, each sentence being rapidly translated into Mota by Mr. Codrington, who stood beside the Bishop on the chancel steps. Service ended, the congregation remained kneeling for some minutes in silent worship, a marked contrast to the behaviour in many of our churches, and then quietly and orderly left the church, the girls going first. Perfect order outside as at all times, while the boys gather together, as is their custom, round fires they have kindled for themselves in the open air, and chat freely and pleasantly together. Such a thing as rowdyism is, we were told, unknown amongst them.
I have dealt thus at length upon our first day at St. Barnabas, because I wish to give those who have not the opportunity of seeing the mission as near a picture of it as I can, so that fresh interest may be awakened in this most interesting work. I am quite sure that if they could see what is going on at Norfolk Island, they would thank God and take courage. A few years ago the idea of applying our English Public School system to the wild South Sea Islanders, would have met with scorn or looked upon as Utopian. But now a visitor to St. Barnabas will see it carried out with the greatest success. As was remarked by the present Bishop of Auckland, in describing his impressions on a visit to the mission, "Nothing could be more healthy than the training the boys got. While religious influences pervaded all, the daily life had much of the routine of a Public School--work and play by turns."
Next morning the bell rang for chapel at 7 a.m. The service commenced with a hymn, "Jesu, Lover of my Soul," in Mota, to the well-known tune in Hymns A. and M. All the visitors were struck with the soft subdued tone of the singing, yet which was joined in by every member of the congregation. There is a softness in the Mota language which renders it especially suitable for singing. It somewhat resembles Italian in sound. Then followed the Litany, every response being joined in with the usual heartiness, and the reverence which characterises all the services in the Mission Chapel. Breakfast followed in "Hall" when expeditions in various directions were kindly planned by the Bishop and other members of the Mission staff for their guests, in order that they might see the beauty of the island and the interesting remains of the old convict settlement now inhabited by the quondam Pitcairners, who live on most friendly terms with the mission. The day was thus pleasantly spent by the visitors, while the boys enjoyed it in their own way, cricket being one of the chief attractions. It was good to see their thorough enjoyment of the game, entering into it with all the zest of English schoolboys and cheering a good hit or catch in a way that showed they thoroughly understood it.
The ordinary routine, in which certain hours are given to school work, while a part of every day is spent in farm work, under the direction of some of the mission staff, who work alongside of the boys, was of course suspended during our visit and a special holiday enjoyed by all. Still the result of such discipline was apparent. The following are the impressions of Bishop Cowie upon the system in general, for personal observation:--
"A good deal of the success of the work is explained by the terms on which the teachers and the taught live together at St. Barnabas' school. None of the scholars are kept by the teacher at arm's length; all are encouraged to treat him as one should treat a father, with confidence and respect. As in a well commanded regiment of soldiers (where threatening and scolding are not needed), or in a well brought up family, perfect discipline is maintained, and all are kept in their places by the uniform administration of the unwritten law of love." The effects of such a rule are to be seen on every side. There are no menial offices connected with the mission, the Melanesian boys and girls not being required by the missionaries or their wives to do for them anything that they would not do for themselves. Some of the scholars who assist in the household work as volunteers, receive a small payment for their services, but their are no regular servants, the work of the community of whatever kind being distributed among the whole body, Europeans and natives alike, each one giving his more particular attention to that branch of the household or other duties for which his strength and natural tastes, or his antecedents, specially at him. Thus Mr. Codrington directs the higher education of the school; Mr. Palmer superintends the farm, and works on it more diligently than any day labourer would be expected to do, being assisted by other missionaries; one missionary is head gardener, another has charge of the horses, cows, carts, etc., while the superintendence of the girls and married women is left to the ladies. Until lately Mr. Codrington acted as head cook, in addition to his other duties; he is now relieved of this office by Mr. Penny. It is by such brotherly and Christian co-operation in all matters connected with the work of the mission, that self-respect, mutual trust, and a spirit of independence are cherished and maintained among the residents at St. Barnabas. The wildest children of the wildest islanders are perfectly gentle in their intercourse with their teachers, sitting quietly by their side in their rooms, handling with much care their lesson-books, doing no injury to the furniture, and keeping their fingers from the private property of the missionaries, which lies about them on every side.
To return to our narrative. That evening, at tea, we noticed that our waiters had all wound sashes of bright Turkey red round their waists, which gave them a very picturesque look, and henceforth enabled us to distinguish them at meal-time. But we soon learned to recognise the different faces of "Alfred," Clement," "Reuben," "Jasper," etc., who soon became known friends. It was a pretty sight, when the Bishop or Mr. Codrington would call a boy to them at any time, and while giving some direction, would stand with his arm round the boy, as though speaking to a son; and to note the answering look of trust on the dark face. As has been well said: "It is not go and he goeth," there but "come and he cometh." There was a concert in the schoolroom that evening, at which the Melanesians sang some rounds, such as "Three Blind Mice," "Follow, Follow," "Oh! dear, what can the matter be," etc., in Mota, doing great credit to their instructors, Mr. Bice and Mr. Baker. The visitors then gave some songs to the great delight of the Melanesians, who showed their appreciation by the most enthusiastic clapping of hands, in which the girls joined heartily! They were perfectly astonished at one lady who executed a marvellous shake in "The Nightingale's Trill," and thought it was a bird; but when one of the gentlemen gave a comic song, with much gesticulation, and with chorus joined in by the rest, while Bishop Selwyn walked about amongst the boys, rapidly translating each line into Mota, they fairly roared with laughter, and hugged one another with delight! At the end there was a deafening encore.
Saturday is pay-day for those boys employed about the Mission Station in various ways, the cooks, milking-boys, etc. Each had his shilling, or sixpence, as his week's wage, which was soon spent at the store, which Mr. Ruddock had charge of, and which is open for a short time on Saturdays. Knives, fish-hooks, treasures of all kinds were to be obtained here. The boys had been told that the visitors would [3/4] gladly buy any Island curiosities they had to sell, so they came round to our rooms with a great variety of bracelets, combs, mats, etc., which were soon exchanged for something more valuable. Saturday is always a holiday with them, when they play cricket, or wander about over the island, taking out their lunch, and forming little parties amongst themselves.
The day was spent in much the same way, many of the visitors enjoying an excursion to the top of Mount Pitt, the one eminence of the island from which a beautiful view is to be had. The whole island lies spread out below, while there is an unbroken horizon all round of the Pacific Ocean.
In the evening there were native dances round a bonfire, and a grand display of fireworks by the Bishop, to the wild delight of the Melanesians, whose shouts of delight at each rocket or Roman candle amused their visitors greatly. The Maori clergyman, Kerihona, stalked about amongst them, dressed up in New Zealand mats, and gave the Maori war-shout, to the great amusement of the children, who had a great admiration for Kerihona, on account of his fine size and majestic bearing.
Sunday was a day which will long be looked back to with pleasure by those who were at the early celebration in the beautiful English Memorial Chapel, and afterwards at a short English service at ten a.m., when Bishop Selwyn gave an earnest address on the words: "That we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope," referring to the difficulties as well as results of missionary work, and showing how those very scriptures, through which we have hope, brought to them patience and comfort in their work.
There was service in Mota at eleven, before which there had been Sunday-school, in which some of the teachers are older boys.
The Saturday evening service was entirely a native one: Evening Prayer being read by the Deacon, Edward Wogale, the lesson by "Sapi," the candidate for Deacon's orders, and the organ played by "Clement" who had given place to Mr. Bice before. The sermon was preached by one of the Maori clergymen, the Rev. Renata Tongata, on I Peter ii. x., and translated into Mota by Mr. Palmer. It was a living commentary on the words, "For ye are all one in Christ Jesus," to hear that native clergyman preaching through an English interpreter to a congregation of a different race. Immediately after the Sacrament of Holy Baptism was administered to seven Florida boys, and a girl from the same island. It was a most solemn service. The font was beautifully decked with flowers, while round it stood those who were thus to be admitted into Christ's holy Church, all neatly dressed in white. Behind each stood an older boy as sponsor, who gave the new Christian name for each. The form used was that for adult baptism, the Bishop calling upon each by name to answer to the solemn questions, and each, prayer-book in hand, replying in an audible voice. Then each one stood beside the Bishop, on the steps of the great marble font, while he put his arm round him and poured water on his head "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Then, his arm still round the child, signed upon his or her forehead the sign of the cross. It was a sight that will never fade from the minds of some who saw it--that of the Bishop of the Southern Sees [sic] standing there looking up towards the altar with those eight converts, one by one, standing by his side, with the strong arm round each in turn, and the kind loving face looking down on them. Each in turn quietly return to their place, and, reverently kneeling, remained so until the conclusion of the service. The whole congregation had stood during the ceremony, and the most perfect order and quietness prevailed. Each candidate at the baptism read the answers from the Mota Prayer Book, which they held in their hand; Mr. Penny, their teacher, standing beside the Bishop and presenting each in turn.
The address on Sunday evening was from the Ven. Archdeacon Maunsell, of the Diocese of Auckland, translated into Mota.
Next day, a fuller meaning was given to the Bishop's words of the preceding day of the need they who work in the Mission Field have of the "comfort and patience" spoken of, for when we met for chapel at the early morning hour, we were told of news, received the night before, of the murder of the commander and men of H. M. Sandfly, and that at the very island--Florida--from which came those whose baptism we had witnessed. A steamer from Sydney had called in on her way to Fiji, and the Bishop, expecting friends, had hurried down from the Service to meet this news, as he said, "Like a slap in the face." It cast quite a gloom over everything that day. Perhaps it was as well that we should know something of the shadows as well as the brightness of Mission work; so that henceforth our sympathy could, in some measure, grasp even that. Strangely enough, Mr. Penny's own life had been endangered at that same island last year.
The morning school was held by special request for an hour, so that the visitors might see the way in which it was conducted. It much resembled school in other places, save that the pupils are better behaved. The copybooks were the general admiration, the writing being remarkably good. That of many of the elder scholars has the appearance of a well-formed English hand.
Tuesday, December 7th was the long looked forward to Consecration Day. It was a lovely morning; nothing could have added to its clear beauty. The day began with an early celebration in Mota, at which only those connected with the Mission were present. The boys had gaily decorated the Mission Station with flags, which were festooned across the road at the entrance to the Chapel, and floated from the tops of all the tallest pines, where they had climbed to plant them.
At breakfast, we were a goodly number, for this day, as well as on the previous Sunday, the scholars sat down with us--and small tables all round the room were filled with the bright eyed boys and girls of Melanesia, who appeared to enjoy their potatoes and yams as much as we did our more European fare.
At 10 a.m. the Consecration took place. Representatives of the various families of the "Norfolkers" had been invited to be present, two of their number having given their lives for the Mission: Edwin Nobbs and Fisher Young, who were killed at Santa Cruz in 1865. The Chapel was filled to overflowing, chairs having been brought into fill up all available space. The upper seats were reserved, as usual, for the Melanesian scholars. The Consecration service was in Mota, having been printed by the boys at the Mission Press, under the direction of Mr. Codrington, in Mota and English on corresponding pages, and reflecting great credit on the printers.
The Bishops and clergy formed in procession at the old chapel and walked from there to the new. Entering the building a processional hymn was sung in Mota by the scholars, Mr. Bice accompanying on the organ, while they walked up the nave, Bishop Selwyn preceded by Wogale the native deacon as his chaplain, and the Bishop of Waiapu by Kerihona the Maori deacon as his. They took their seats as follows:--On the north side of the altar Bishop Selwyn, below him Archdeacon Maunsell and the Revs. Dudley, Ashwell, Palmer, Wogale, Kerihona, and Baker, while on the south side were the Bishop of Waiapu, the Revs. Nobbs, Codrington, Dr. Kinder, Kenata, Walsh, Gould, Elcum, Comins, and Ruddock.
The Bishop having taken his seat, was requested by Mr. T. H. Upton, on behalf of the trustees, to proceed to consecrate, and replied in the following words:--"I am consenting and ready to do as you have desired, and beseech God to bless and prosper the good work we are going about." He then walked, with the clergy, from the east to the west end of the chapel and back again repeating the 115th Psalm. The Consecration Service contained the following prayers, amongst others such as are generally used on such occasions:--
"Father, we dedicate this House to Thee that by its beauty it may itself teach those who enter here from our Islands the beauty of thine holiness; that as its glory far exceeds all that they have ever seen in their own lands, so they may learn to think of that more glorious home above, where the pure in heart shall see Thee in Thy beauty, and in the Holy City shall ever worship Thee, the Temple and the Light thereof. Amen."
"O Lord our God, Thou dwellest not in temples made with hand, dwell in the temple of these thy children's hearts, that they may be filled with Thy Holy Spirit, and thus may teach others, as this Thy earthly temple will, we trust, teach them; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
These were all in Mota, read by the Bishop. After the sentence of consecration had been pronounced, morning prayer was proceeded with. The special lessons were read, the first by the Rev. J. Palmer, the second by the Rev. R. H. Codrington. Morning prayer was said by the Rev. A. Penny, the occasional prayer by Bishop Selwyn. The following hymn, composed for the occasion by Bishop Selwyn was sung to the tune of the Hymn for those at sea in A. and M.:--
Look that thou make them after the pattern which was showed thee in the mount. EXODUS xxv.
O God Jehovah, Who didst dwell
Amidst the tents of Israel,
When on Thy Mercy seat was poured
The sudden Glory of the Lord.
Grant us Thy Presence here to-day,
And fill this Temple as we pray.
Thou, Who upon the Mount didst show
The heavenly type of things below;
Grant us at Thy right hand to scan
The pattern of the Son of Man.
That in the islands of the sea
A living Church may rise to Thee.
Descend, O Lord, that we in Prayer
With Thee may sweet communion share;
May learn Thy orders for the strife;
And, strengthened with the Bread of Life,
May onward press, till Jordan past,
We with Thy saints find rest at last.
And as Thy people unto Thee,
Each from his heart, gave willingly;
So teach us here like gifts to make,
Ourselves, our dearest, for Thy sake;
Then number us in Thy dear love
As jewels on Thy throne above.
Yet not alone--each offering bore
Something of spoiléd Egypt's store.
And thus to Thee be ever given
Souls won from Sin, from earth to Heaven,
Brought with us from the lands of night,
To shine for ever in Thy sight.
At the conclusion of morning prayer, the Melanesians withdrew, and the Communion Service was proceeded with in English--the Epistle being read by the Rev. George Nobbs, the venerable pastor of the Pitcairners, now over eighty years of age--the Gospel by Archdeacon Maunsell. The sermon was preached by the Rev. B. T. Dudley, for many years of the Melanesian Mission, in which he was closely associated with Bishop Patteson, between whom and himself there was a deep personal affection. As the sermon is given elsewhere, comment on it would be superfluous, as it is inadequate; suffice to say, that many who heard it felt a right note had been struck when the preacher dwelt on the responsibility which rested upon those who had been privileged to visit the Mission--a responsibility affecting their own lives as well as influence. There was a touching allusion to the one so present in the minds of all that to name him seemed unnecessary.
In one of Bishop Patteson's letters to his sisters many years ago, the following passage occurs: "Sometimes I have a vision, but I must live twenty years to see more than a vision of a small but exceedingly beautiful Gothic Chapel, rich inside with marbles and stained glass, and carved stalls, and encaustic tiles, and brass screen work. I have a feeling that a certain use of really good ornaments may be desirable, and being on a very small scale, it might be possible to make such a very perfect thing some day. There is no notion of my indulging such a thought. It may come some day when, and most probably after, I am dead and gone. It would be very foolish to spend money upon more necessary things than a beautiful Chapel at present, when in fact I hardly pay my way at all; and yet a really noble Church is a wonderful instrument of education if we think only of the lower way of regarding it."
After the prayer for the Church Militant, was said the following prayer of commemoration:--
"Most merciful God, Who dost grant unto Thy chosen servants grace, by the innocency of their lives and constancy of their faith even unto death, to glorify Thee; we give Thee hearty thanks for the life and death of Thy servant John Coleridge Patteson, first Bishop of this Mission, in whose memory we now dedicate this Church to Thee; and for the example of those who died with him; Joseph Atkin, Priest, and Stephen Taroaniara, Catechist, of this Mission; with whom through Thine Almighty comfort "it was well" at the [4/5] hour of death; we bless Thee also for the children of this Island, Edwin Nobbs and Fisher Young, who, wounded at Santa Cruz, were content, "doing their duty," to die in Thy service.
"And we also glorify Thy Holy Name for those who, having served Thee in this Mission, have departed in Thy faith and fear; for George Augustus, Bishop of New Zealand, Bishop of Litchfield, our Founder; for William Nihill, Priest, who died at Nengone; for Robert Simeon Jackson, Priest; for Sarah Palmer, and Clara Selwyn, whose memories are dear and precious to us; and for all those, who, coming from heathenism, and being made Thine by Baptism, have joyfully passed through the grave and gate of death.
"And while we remember these, who, working with us, have left us the brightness of their example, we also praise Thy Glorious Name for the example of James Graham Goodenough, Commodore in the Royal Navy, who, seeking to win the friendship of the people of Santa Cruz, was with two of his men wounded unto death; yet suffered no vengeance to be taken, and witnessing a good confession calmly yielded up his soul to Thee. For all these, O Lord, we render unto Thee most hearty thanks, we praise and glorify Thee: humbling beseeching Thee to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be received into Thy Eternal and Glorious Kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Amen.
Then followed the celebration of the Holy Communion, the Bishop of Waiapu being celebrant. The elements were distributed by the two bishops and four clergy to a double row of communicants.
The Norfolk Island visitors were afterwards entertained at lunch, and the afternoon was spent in pleasant intercourse till five o'clock, when a special service (English) for the whole Island community, of whom there must have been quite two hundred present, was held in the chapel. The greater part of the consecration services was then repeated, and a sermon preached by the Bishop of Waiapu on Zech. iv., 6, 7. It had been arranged that there should be no organ accompaniment, to enable the visitors to thoroughly enjoy the singing of the Norfolk Islanders, which was a great treat. Driver Christian, a grandson of the celebrated Fletcher Christian, mate of the "Bounty," and leader of the mutiny, who leads the singing, stood at the lectern, and raised the tune of two beautiful old hymns, "The Lord my pasture shall prepare" and "Shepherd of the ransomed flock," as well as the chants, which were joined in by every member of the congregation, everyone singing in part with a heartiness perfectly astonishing to those who had not on the previous Sunday heard them in their own church. The voices of these people are remarkably strong and beautiful, their appearance resembling that of Italians or Spaniards more than English. They appear to be on most friendly terms with the Mission, and indirectly benefit greatly from it, the clergy taking one service for them on Sunday in the large commissariat building of the old days, now used as a church.
In the evening there was an informal conversazione in "Hall," tea-cake, etc., in plentiful supplies, many of the Norfolkers remaining for the evening. There was an organ recital by Mr. Brown, a professional from Auckland, and afterwards some glees from the Norfolkers. The visitors gave some songs and choruses in return. The Melanesians mixed freely in the gathering in their usual quiet, well-behaved way, evidently enjoying it all to the utmost. Many of them had decorated their woolly heads with bright-coloured flowers in a most elaborate way, the single blossoms being stuck in all over. A display of fireworks ended the entertainment. So closed a day long to be remembered by all who spent it at St. Barnabas.
Wednesday, December 8th, was the day fixed for our departure, and right sorry we were that our visit had come to a close, for no hosts could have been more attentive and courteous, sacrificing much personal comfort in order that their guests might have a pleasant visit. Our only regret was that the past week had been no holiday to those who had contributed so greatly to our enjoyment. Words to this effect were spoken before we left the breakfast table by the Bishop of Waiapu and Mr. Hawkes, of Adelaide, and acknowledged on behalf of the Mission staff by Bishop Selwyn, who paid a graceful tribute to Mr. Codrington for his unwearied energy in superintending the erection of the Chapel, for the architect being in England, there had been no slight difficulties in carrying out the design. The party then assembled, with many of the scholars, outside the Chapel, where a photograph of the group was taken by Mr. Codrington.
At 10 a.m. we met for the last time in the now consecrated Chapel, for a short (English) Service, having special reference to our approaching voyage. Morning Prayer was read by the Rev. Mr. Walsh, one of the visitors, and occasional prayers, with special Collects, by Bishop Selwyn. The special Lesson was taken from St. Mark vi., from v. 45, was ready by the Rev. B. T. Dudley.
A flower and fruit show had been arranged to be held in our honour by the Norfolk Islanders, who had also invited the Mission staff with their guests to a pic-nic luncheon afterwards. Accordingly we all made our way to Longridge, the country residence of the Governor in the old convict days, where the Horticultural Show was prepared, below some magnificent pines, interspersed with English oaks and other trees. The flowers were on a raised central erection, while a circle of tables surrounded them, covered with the finest fruits and vegetables, such as yams, cucumbers, bananas, strawberries, and cherimoyas, that we had ever seen, while a fife band gave some enlivening music. It was quite an Arcadian scene. Our hosts provided a really sumptuous luncheon, which was spread upon the ground, and to which we sat down in a large semicircle, there being from one hundred and fifty to two hundred present, the prize fruits being handed round. Then came the reading out of the prizes, this being done by Mr. Codrington and Mr. Arthur Mills, a late M.P. from England. Speeches were also made by Bishop Selwyn and the Bishop of Waiapu, and then the party broke up, all adjourning to the pier to witness the embarkation, the remaining fruit and flowers having been presented to the visitors.
Good-bye at last! as we step from the pier into the strong whale-boats, which are to carry us out to our ship, and a crowd of hands are held out from Norfolkers and Melanesians alike, and every one must have a shake, and friendly wishes are exchanged, and words of thanks spoken for one of the pleasantest visits ever paid. The Bishop comes on board of course, and helps haul up the last boat in a characteristic way. An earnest good-bye all round and "God bless you all," and he steps down into the boat to return. A hearty cheer is given and returned again and again as the little boat returns towards shore, and the last is seen of a manly form standing up in her waving a hat. Steam is got up and we are off, looking back with regretful eyes on the gable cliffs of Norfolk Island with their wondrous colouring, able now to enter more fully than before into the interest and work of the Melanesian Mission. God grant that the interest may be an abiding and fruitful one!
We round Phillip Island close under the high perpendicular cliffs, and ere long the night sinks down, and we know we are at sea.
Six days bring us back to Auckland, the return voyage being of much the same character as that described before, save that we are driven up and down the coast of New Zealand for twenty-four hours in a gale, and are thankful when once more we safely land. Morning and evening prayer were daily said during our voyage as before. Our Precentor having stayed behind, we had to supply his place as best we could. Not the least enjoyable part of our expedition was the opportunity of forming acquaintance with one another on board the somewhat overcrowded ship, the necessities of which brought out many traits of kindliness and unselfishness amongst our fellow-passengers. Our "Specials" were, of course, hard at work on the return voyage, and our "Artist's" sketch-book will furnish amusement for many a half hour to come. A subscription of £30 was presented by the passengers to the captain and crew before reaching Auckland, with an address, conveying their appreciation of the uniform kind attention received from them.
The writer cannot close without expressing a hope that the foregoing account of the visit to Norfolk Island, and the work being carried on at St. Barnabas, may serve not only as a description of the same, but to call forth renewed help and interest in one of the most interesting missions of the Church--one which surely has a special claim upon those members of the Church of England resident in these colonies.
WHEN the Almighty King, having laid aside His heavenly glory and taken our nature upon Him, walked this our earth, He carried about with Him such a yearning desire, such an intense unsatisfied craving as quite passes our power of imagining. What He entailed on Himself by taking our nature upon Him that in it He might achieve our redemption, those only can from a far distance contemplate who--having been admitted to membership in His Mystical Body, and being possessed by His Holy Spirit--are day by day, with conscious definiteness of purpose, fellow workers with Him. We all--reading the records of His life on earth--can familiarise ourselves with its more outward aspects; but to those who penetrate behind these, and discern its inner springs and its sustaining purpose, there open out such a mystery of unselfish love and sorrow, and such a far-reaching hope, as is simply wonderful.
All the springs of the life of the Lord Jesus were in God, the Heavenly Father; and the sustaining purpose of His life was the vindication of His Father's goodness to His adopted brethren, and thus their salvation. Can tongue or pen describe His life in this aspect? Descending from the highest heights of glory to the lowest depths of humiliation, taking us at our lowest level in our sin, our weakness, our ignorance, and utter earthliness, we find Him setting to work as one of ourselves to raise Himself in the only way that we can rise, that He may raise us with and after Himself--viz., through a life of temptation, of habitual self-sacrifice, and of active love, in the midst of those who are utterly unable to understand Him. Tempted in all points like those around, but maintaining His sinlessness; He never pleases Himself merely, but bears the weight of the whole world's sin and care. When He has borne it unto death, then, and not before, He rises from beneath it; thus gaining for Himself the highest pinnacle of exaltation, even the right hand of the Father, and the exercise of all power in Heaven and earth. Now, then, he is our recognised God, the rightful Lord of all. And, through the ages, His kingdom is coming ever more fully, the fruits of His self-sacrifice are ever more abounding. All, however, is by no means yet fulfilled; He still waits, unsatisfied; and we, who have been called to follow Him, whose hopes are bound up with Him, are waiting also.
Now this unsatisfiedness (if I may coin a word) until all enemies of God and man are subdued, and the last of Christ's brethren and ours are gathered in, and the whole creation of God is fully redeemed, as it is in the mind of our Lord, so it must be in ours also. In the means of grace, in our respective spheres in life, and in the work He gives us to do, and in those special blessings He so wondrously bestows, God graciously gives us instalments of satisfaction from time to time. E.g., what a season of spiritual help and enjoyment we visitors to this place are now passing through! What an assistance, religiously speaking, has been afforded us in this building, by far the most perfect of its kind the most of us have seen, and in its services! But, "the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear satisfied with hearing;" not even this church and its most helpful reverent services, yield absolute contentment. We still look around; we still reach further on. What we now think perfect we shall soon, from familiarity, come to regard with comparative indifference and perhaps even to criticise in detail.
And so with our own spiritual progress, and with the work of the world's redemption, especially that portion of it more immediately concerning ourselves. Can we ever be "satisfied" with it?
But, let us note, dissatisfaction does not imply unthankfulness. He who said, "I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes," teaches us to be genuinely thankful, not only for more manifest tokens of progress, [5/6] but also for each single evidence of the power of grace, and to recognise therein the silent, unabated working of the influence of the Almighty King, and the assurance of His continued blessing. And when we take a retrospect from time to time, and see the successive links in a chain of providences (such as we may see in the initiation and progress of this Melanesian mission), then, indeed, while still far from content, we must at least pause to lift up our voices in a shout of praise. What hath God here wrought? For who else but He has wrought? This is no chance, no work of this man or that man, but of One who uses men, who holds all in His hands, and is steadily, if slowly, working out His Almighty purpose.
Nor, again, need dissatisfaction imply impatience. There is nothing more wonderful than the patience of our God; there is nothing more fruitful than patience in His servants, who are sure that all work tells, and that no effort at God's direction and in His service, even though it seems frustrated, is really in vain.
In this beautiful chapel, which rises a veritable surprise in this secluded and quiet spot of earth, we have a remarkable witness to the strength and patience of our God. In the door ever standing open, in the altar ever accessible, in the figures of the four evangelists bearing emblems of the everlasting Gospel they proclaimed, which lies ever open to be read and expounded; and especially, in the representation of our Almighty King Himself, crowned indeed, but still bearing traces of his agony with intense, yearning, still unsatisfied love depicted on his countenance, His hand outstretched in perpetual blessing over all who shall enter and worship here. Let us remember that this patience of His is a fact that remains all though the caprice and impatience and mischief-making of his professed followers, and the malice of His enemies. He can wait so long, cannot we wait for a little while? He hath been mindful of us in the past, will He not bless us "more than in past years" in the future?
How comforting to think that it is with the disciple as it is with the master; that the disciple who is most in our minds to-day, and who was so specially tried, never being permitted to exult as we can now exult during his earthly ministry, may now be permitted to see something of the travail of his loyal soul. Who shall say but some report of this one work of to-day may reach him, and those of the Melanesian mission with him gathered into Paradise, and they may rejoice, not only for past in-gatherings, but for the promise of the future hereby opened out? Bishop Patteson's soul is not yet satisfied, nor is that of one of God's departed saints. How can they be till the number of the elect is made up, and the kingdom has fully come in? Meanwhile, beyond a doubt, it is coming, and it will come in Melanesia as elsewhere. Small the past results may seem as compared with what remains to be done; yet, still, the sustenance of the work hitherto, the consecutive stages of its growth, the way in which men have been raised up to it, are wonderful.
And do not the recent opening up of Santa Cruz and the baptisms of last Sunday seem to come in with special meaning just now, suggesting to us that this place is to be more and more a centre of increasing and multiplying out-stations; that this Church is to be the fit Cathedral of a diocese in which its services, its fair proportions, and many of its distinctive features, shall be rapidly reproduced on every side; and in which, above all, congregations of faithful converts shall ever be multiplied, these congregations being ministered to by men educated in Christian truth and worship at this centre of diocesan work and life?
Thanks be to God for the bright prospects of this mission, and for the large circle of its sympathisers, and especially for this characteristic of a truly prosperous mission, that it is able to re-act powerfully, by means of its high tone and spirit, upon those who support it! Sure I am, that what we visitors have seen and heard will affect us powerfully, and that we shall go away from this wonderful island, once the abode of the vile, now in the occupation of the interesting Pitcairn Island community and of the Melanesian Mission, saying to one another, "What hath God wrought!"
Brethren! (I address now my fellow-visitors) if we say this of this work, let us remember that to witness that which evokes such an exclamation is a responsibility. It were a terrible thing to be unreal, in the presence of such manifest signs of God's presence and power and blessing as this mission in its past history and its present condition affords. It were dangerous indeed, after participating in the work of to-day, to go back to a life of contented frivolity, or of disobedience to God's will. Better, almost, that we had not come! But those who go forth from hence, do not go out into a world in which God is not, or is not actively working; He is working in many a mission field, both home and foreign. He is working everywhere, and his workings are to be discerned by all those whose attention has once been drawn (as ours has been drawn here) to the signs of His working, and who keep their eyes and ears, and hearts open thenceforward.
And He wants the help of us all. He asks the help of us all. He has surely brought us here for this purpose, that heart and hands, and all our powers may be enlisted in His service more devotedly than ever? and thus, among us at least, a new stage may be gained towards that satisfaction for which He and His saints still wait--when all shall know Him, from the least to the greatest, and the whole company of His redeemed shall be gathered in, and shall serve Him with a single service.
Wonderful! He calls us all; He wants us all; He will use us all if we will but first give ourselves whole-heartedly to Him, and then ask Him to teach us in our several spheres to do the thing that pleaseth Him.
The thing that pleaseth Him--the "good pleasure of the Lord." Brethren, self-pleasing as a primary aim and the service of our King are absolutely incompatible. He "pleased not Himself," and we must not please ourselves, except in so far as we, Bishop Patteson-like--yea, Christ-like--learn to find our true pleasure in that which perhaps is naturally distasteful, in that work which God opens out for us to do, and will open out more and more as we obey Him. In so far as we attain to this, we find true life, true satisfaction.
There is no satisfaction in the flesh or in the world; sooner or later all is found to be vanity and vexation of spirit; but, joined to Christ in mystic union, introduced into the higher sphere of His Holy Church, into the fellowship of angels and of saints, while we share the discomforts of our Head, we learn also to wait with His patience; and we look forward to share His perfect satisfaction, when all things shall be put under His feet, and God shall be all in all, when we shall all be transformed completely into His likeness. Then shall the promise of the text be fulfilled in its completeness--"He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied;" then we, too, shall be fully satisfied.
Then shall the beauty of the temple such as this even be of service no longer, for we shall dwell in that blessed country and in that golden city of which we read that John "saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple thereof."--"N. Zealand Herald" (Dec. 18).
___________________________________________________________ C. E. Fuller, Machine Printer, George-street, Parramatta; and 385-387, George-street, Sydney.