Project Canterbury











[Benjamin Thornton Dudley]


Published by request of the Bishop of the Diocese








Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2005




"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing."--St. Matthew xxiv. 45, 46.

THERE are some occasions in our lives, brethren, when the words of Holy Scripture are invested for us with a degree of plainness, and its figures reveal a depth of meaning such as no mere verbal explanation could ever bring out; they are less felt to be figures, then the expression of a literal reality.

Take as an illustration of this the Scripture figure used in the Collect for this day, and evidently familiar to the writers respectively of the Epistle of the Gospel. The Church is a "household." Jesus Christ, the Son of the Householder, is the Master of the house. Having received delegated authority of His Father, he has appointed his various under officers, and "to every man his work." until He shall come to take account of him; and this He may do at any time.

A household; in which every member has to do "according to his several ability;" some perform what in the estimation of men are higher and more honorable, others perform seemingly less honorable offices; the arrangements are in large measure left to those engaged in the various departments of the work; and thus, the adjudication of necessity sometimes proves mistaken; but sometimes, men go to their posts, under the conviction that they have been directly called to them by the voice of God Himself; and what a help this is to enable them to remain faithful to the end!

[4] The taking up of a place in this household consciously and heartily involves a giving up to it and to its work, of the first place in everything; and the relegation even of our nearest relatives and friends to the second position. If the first duty of an earthly servant is towards his or her employers, if the first claim on an enlisted solider is that of his country, then in a far higher sense and far more absolutely the Captain of our salvation, the Master of that great household the Church has a first claim upon those who are its members. Let us face the fact, brethren; let us ponder well the saying, hard though it is. He who, in obedience to the calls of duty forewent the tender ministrations of His mother and His sisters, and who in His earnest self-abnegation for men's sakes, suffered His brethren to say of Him, "He is beside himself;"--He who, stretching forth His wide embracing arms declared all those who should do the will of God to be His "brother and sister and mother;' has said explicitly to us, His disciples, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple; and whosever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple."

And what does He mean by this? we know well, that He does not demand of us neglect of our relations, or forgetfulness of those dear friends whom God's providence has placed around us; all his actions contradict such an idea; was any other ever so tender as He, to those in anxiety or suffering from bereavement, whether humble disciple, or haughty ruler, whether a personal friend, or a poor widow met for the first time in the road at a funeral; or a stranger, one of those his countrymen [4/5] despised? Was He one to counsel suppression of natural feelings, who bade a would-be follower, "Go home to thy friends, and declare what things God hath done for thee;" Who, in the hour of death agony, made thoughtful provision for His heart broken mother?

No! He was tender above all others, even as He was the pattern to all others in His self-denial and self-forgetfulness for His work's sake. Reading His words in the light of His acts, and in the light of the acts of those who have most deeply drunk of His Spirit and trod most closely in His steps, we understand that what He demands of His disciples as a first condition of discipleship, is a mental act of complete self surrender at the outset; a laying down at His feet, in will and in intention, of all we have and all we are, as being His who has redeemed us; and, after this, having all still, holding all still, houses, friends, relatives, means, everything as before, with only this difference, that now we hold them as stewards; as part of the property of the household to which we belong; our constant mental attitude for henceforth is indicated by the words of St. Paul at his conversion, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" and let any clear indication of His will be given to us, then, though the call be to sell all that we have, to throw up a good worldly position, to forsake those on earth we love best, or to go to the furthest corner of the world in the furtherance of Christ's work; if we are true disciples, obedient members of the household, we shall obey it promptly and cheerfully.

Our Master is most tender and considerate, and only makes startling calls to those in whom He sees a capacity for obeying them; but He makes some calls upon all, and the point is, are we prepared to [5/6] obey them at once; do we set obedience to them before everything else, or do we allow self interest to persuade us to close our ears to them, or the loud voices of the Babel in which we live; to drown them? By this test we may ascertain whether our self surrender has been complete; whether or not we have really joined Him with the intention of serving Him to the end, whether or no we are His true disciples; by this we may each for ourselves ascertain whether or no we have part and lot with those "good and faithful" servants who have done their work well at their appointed post in His household, and have now entered into "the joy of their Lord."

And when before, brethren, had this momentous question ever such an intense significance for us as now it is felt to wear? On which side are we? on the side of Christ, or His adversaries? Are we among the working, faithful members of His household, or among those, who, no true members, have obtained admittance into it under false pretences; and by their evil deeds undo much of the good work others are carrying on? How is it with us? let us not separate until every one here has found an answer of "aye" or "no" in the depth of his or her inner consciousness, and according to the nature of that answer has resolved to take action. Let us not disguise the fact one instant longer, that every one here who is not on the side of the truth and humanity, on the side of Christ and His martyrs, is really ranged on the side of falsehood and wrong; of those who, of old, betrayed and crucified Him, and who still, directly or indirectly, molest and murder his servants.

Our Lord foretold that in the evil days coming, "a man's foes shall be they of his own household;" [6/7] this warning, verified in so remarkable a manner as it has been in our knowledge, summons every one of us who profess and calls himself a Christian this day to come to a right decision; and speaks to all who have long ago in heart decided, of the necessity of plainness of speech, and vigorous, consistent self-denying action in obedience to every call of duty!

Brethren, I am sure that to-day, of all days on which you have ever come together here, you are united in thought as well as in outward act. Representatives of many earthly households, of almost every age and of every class, you have come together to the House of our father with hearts full of sorrow for those dear and honored, and most useful members of the household of faith who have been called up higher to join that part of the great family in heaven and earth which is already removed from earth. I say, members; for although but one was known to us generally, and it is upon him that our thoughts chiefly dwell, the martyrs of Santa Cruz, were three in number. The Solomon Islander, Stephen Taroniaro, who after seven days of suffering passed to his rest, was one on whom the hopes of all who knew him were fondly centred. For many years past he had been living a consistent Christian life; for some time he had been a useful teacher in the Norfolk Island School; and had it pleased God to spare his life, it was in contemplation of the Bishop to ordain him next Christmas, to minister to his own people at St. Christoval. He would have been the second ordained Native Melanesian Missionary. Let us not forget him, in thinking of our countrymen, for he was their dear and valued friend; and God grant that in our day of trial our faith may shine as brightly as his did!

[8] And then, as to the noble young Missionary,* [footnote: *The Rev. Joseph Atkin, son of William Atkin, Esq., Tamaki, Auckland.] our own countryman, born and brought up in this place, and whose sorrowing but to be envied parents and sister are among us; who has preached to you from this pulpit, and has spoken to you and to your children of the island work; the testimony of those who knew him best is that, perhaps, next to the Bishop, he of all the members of the Mission staff could least be spared. Always at his post, his characteristic was to take his share and more than his share of all kinds of work, and to say as little as possible about it. When wounded on the late sad occasion we find him going back to the ship to deposit there his wounded companions, and then at once, though by every motion the poison was being diffused more completely through his system, returning to seek the Bishop, because it was his post to command the boat, and he alone, from his habits of constant patient observation, could pilot her safely. And this is but a type of the manner in which he constantly acted. Oh, why, we ask, was a life so useful and of such promise, cut off thus early? We cannot tell; but we know who are the instrumental causes of these disasters, and what it is that has led to them; we know that it is the action of man, and that in man's hand lies the remedy for the state of things that renders such occurrences possible. Let us not therefore blame Providence; but rather be stirred up by this event to imitate such noble examples of self-devotion, and to do all that in us lies to put down the evils which lead to its being so by men rewarded!

And what can I say to you of him, brethren, the third martyr, whose name was a household word [8/9] among us. The pupil of our own great Bishop, the gentle and quiet, but simple minded and most resolute man who has for so many years been a periodic sojourner in our midst? who has made the hearts of those who knew him personally burn within us, as he talked with us in grave friendliness, and has touched a chord in the hearts of all, whenever, in this house or elsewhere, he has read or expounded the Scriptures? But a few days since, many of us were looking forward with joyful hope and eager expectation to giving him a welcome, and hearing his voice once more; and now--we know that we may go to him, but he will not return to us; that grave earnest face will not be seen, those gentle loving tones will not be heard on earth again; his spirit has fled to Him who gave it, and his body rests where none may weep over it, in the deep blue sea of those islands he loved so well, in the midst of his ocean diocese!

Truly we all, and not only his own particular flock, have suffered heavy bereavement; a blank has been created which can never be quite filled up--we shall not look upon his like again.--But let us thank God from our hearts that we have seen and known him; that once at least in our lives we have been brought face to face with one who made the old, old story a living reality, and enabled us in some degree to picture to our minds our great Example! Many who do not consciously trace it to its cause, are made actually better, and strengthened in their faith, and kept from falling away altogether through the mere existence of such a man as he was.

How was it that he was what he was, in himself, and in his power over others? We know that it was the great grace of God; but, brethren! it was the [9/10] grace of God yielded to, and not resisted, from the outset; the grace of God sought in fresh measure regularly through all the appointed means of grace; enabling him first to give himself up to do the will of God whatever that will might be; and then strengthening him afterwards, as each new call came to him. He was gifted with talents of a very high order, some of which rendered him specially fit for this particular work; but he was inclined by nature to be, in some respects, the very reverse of that he became. None devoted less time to taking food and sleep and mere recreation; but he slowly and painfully taught himself diligence and method; he was (I have it on the best authority, and can add my testimony of personal observation) naturally indolent. And so, he was brought up in luxury and refinement, and most keenly appreciated the elegancies and comforts of civilised life; he suffered at first, physically, from the want of them; but he taught himself to prefer the plainest fare of the Mission School; and with his culture and high attainments, he learnt to find his solace in the society of those simple, unlearned islanders to whom his life was given. At the same time, who that knew him in English society ever found him absent or abrupt in his manner; who ever knew him forgetful of a face he had known, or of a promise he had made? Who was ever so uniformly chivalrous in his bearing towards women, or so beloved by little children; what persons, however humble failed to find in him a friend, or did not instinctively, having once known him, turn to him in difficulty? You should have seen how those who for any length of time sailed with him in the Mission Schooner came to regard him! And yet, he was naturally altogether indisposed for much that he had to go through; [10/11] and felt frequently wearied to the last degree, when kindliness and self forgetfulness prevented him from showing it.

But these are minor points; straws which indicate the general current of his life, the marked feature of which was that which I have already spoken of as self forgetfulness; a merging of all mere personal feelings and wishes in one grant desire to obey the call of God, and to hearken to His voice at all times.

When he first came to this country with Bishop Selwyn to work in the Mission field, he came unsolicited by him, under the influence of what he felt to be a call as plain as that which of old came to Abram, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee!" He was, at the time, the Minister of the Church at which his father worshipped; and the depth and tenderness of the affection that existed between the father and the favourite son was of a kind I have never elsewhere seen; it was literally, like that of David and Jonathan "passing the love of women." But the father gave up the son, and the son freely came at the call of duty; and those great powers and gifts, which would have won a high place for their possessor in any part of Europe, were devoted to unlocking the secrets of barbaric dialects, and training the minds of ignorant heathen. Never, as far as man knows, did he swerve from his purpose, nor did he, from the time he entered upon it to the day of his death, leave his post of duty; and what it cost him to remain at one time, when he knew his father to be dying, and craving his return, though in every letter bravely counseling him, should he perceive it needful, to stay by his work;--what it [11/12] then cost him to remain and work on, knowing that by so doing he was shutting himself out from ever again beholding on earth the face of him he loved best, those only can imagine who were near him at the time and beheld his patience,--no human being knows.

The next marked event in his life was the one which many of you will remember, for it took place in (this) St. Paul's Church. I mean, his consecration to the office of Missionary Bishop. His words on the evening of that day are burnt into the memory of many; it was shown then what he understood by the receiving of the Holy Ghost, how real it was to him, and how impossible it had been to him to undertake the post he then was called to, had he not devoutly believed in the bestowal of a new measure of the gift proportionate to the new responsibilities. You know almost as well as I do where he has been since then, and what he has done; how the work under his direction has grown and expanded slowly but steadily; how those who have visited his centre of operations, in a skeptical spirit towards all Missionary work, have come back enthusiastic believers, at least in this unpretending and quiet, but common sense Mission; you know how wherever he has gone, in Australia or New Zealand, men's hearts have been stirred, and their purse-strings unloosed; how difficulty after difficulty has been met and surmounted, until this last difficulty, that raised by our own countrymen, our own flesh and blood, and in some cases, it is to be feared, our own fellow citizens. Yes, brethren, if what we hear is correct, it was from this country that the Satan went forth to transform himself into an angel of light, that he might deceive and enslave those who were being taught, by him he personated, to love and to trust the white man! [Note A]

[13] But be this as it may, we know what the end has been; we all know the sad, sad story of the Martyr of Santa Cruz, slain treacherously at a place he was visiting on an errand of love and mercy, by those whose names he knew, for he had often before visited them and had sat among them and conversed with them in terms of friendliness. [Note B] And why did they so deal with him? All the evidence goes to show that it was in no personal animosity, but in obedience to a native law which bade them avenge their wrongs at the hand of the white man by the blood of the next of his race, whosoever he might be, who came within their power. The next was Bishop Patteson.

* * * * *

And when they had slain him, all their feelings of revenge seem to have died out. They stript him of his clothing, and discovered that he who had come so confidingly carried no secret weapons;--they wrapt his body reverently in a native shroud, and laid a palm branch on his breast, fit though unintentional emblem of the victor in the conflict; and they knotted it with five knots, to show (it is believed) that he, the unoffending, was put to death for the fault of others, and that his death was taken in payment for the death of five of their countrymen. And thus they sent back his remains to his friends, unmutilated, with his face wearing the same sweet calm expression it wore in life. [NOTE C] They had no fault to find with him, those savage men: for he had never used violence in dealing with them, nor had they ever found deceit in his mouth;--literally,--we may say it without irreverence of this noble Bishop for whom it was prayed at his consecration that "every step of his life might be in the company with the Lord Jesus," of this disciple to whom it was permitted to be so like his master,--literally, he "bare the sin of [13/14] many" transgressors of laws human and divine, for whom, we may well believe, he had again and again interceded.

Brethren, has any event of equal moral significance taken place in this generation? Will it ever be forgotten? When has any servant of the household of faith been so honored? What a glorious end for him!--but, for us--alas! what shall we, who knew him, do without him?

What indeed shall we do under the circumstances? Shall we clamour for his death to be avenged sevenfold on those islanders? Not one here, I am sure, would tolerate such a thought for a moment; what would he say to such a course?

Shall we raise our voices with one accord, to demand that this kidnapping trade shall at once and for ever be put down? That were indeed a step in the right direction; not only for the natives' sakes, and for the sakes of those who else may hereafter fall the victims of a similar catastrophe; but for humanity's sake, for the sake of those who, if permitted to engage in it, will speedily become as utterly degraded as those unhappy beings who have been guilty of the late wicked acts of personation, and who have sunk below the power of realising "what they do."

But even this will not suffice; this will not be a radical treatment of the matter; the real evil, brethren, lies in human covetousness, and human sin! it is vain for us to cut off one of the forms of its manifestation, we must strike more closely home;--we must renounce and withstand more earnestly the evil in ourselves, and around us. This, which seems a great adversity which has befallen the household of faith, may prove an inestimable blessing, if, as God grant it may, it startle the unfaithful servants, and [14/15] waken the sluggish to greater zeal in good works; if it teach us that to cling to any individual man, however holy, is selfish weakness, when the Master he served is our Master; and the Holy Spirit the Comforter, with whose strength he was endued, is given to us to enable us if we will to follow him, as he followed Christ; if it make us feel the vanity of glorying in the great deeds of our fellow-servants, and press home upon us the necessity of personal religion; personal, conscious reliance upon God, and vigilance at our respective posts!

One thing more let me say, and I have done. There was a passage in the well-worn Bible of him who is gone, which was scored, and underscored and blotted with his tears. It was associated in his mind with the thought of his father. It was St. Mark x. 28-30 "Peter began to say unto Jesus, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundred fold now in this time, houses and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and land, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life."

Brethren, if ever these words received their interpretation and fulfillment, they did so in him for whom we are now mourning. He left all these things here enumerated, for Christ and the Gospel's sake; and as to the means he brought with him to this country, he never treated them as his own, but used the major part in the Mission cause, and for the benefit of others. There are many in this place who have received of his bounty. And was there ever a man whose removal from the earth awakened [15/16] so wide spread a sense of personal loss? He found a new father in Bishop Selwyn; not a man or woman among those privileged to know him personally but felt him to be more to them far than a brother could be, and they were proud if they might do for him a brother's or a sister's part; all children sought him as their dearly loved friend; and he looked upon the island boys and girls as his veritable children, and they felt him to be more that a father; a true "father in God." All "houses" were open for him, all "lands" were delighted to welcome him; all true members of the household of faith felt a tie stronger than that of blood-relationship binding them to him. Nor was that part of the text unfulfilled which speaks of "persecutions;" he had these, in the shape of many a sharp thorn in the flesh, and, at times, of human opponents; few knew how much pain he suffered of late on account of the cruel invasions of his island flocks. But all that for him is for ever over now; all the pain of this earthly existence is ended; there remains to him now but that full fruition, reserved for the "world to come," of the last promise of the text, "eternal life!"

Eternal life! the joy of his Lord! O wondrous love, in which he has been enabled to pass through "tribulation, and distress, and persecution and nakedness, and peril and sword," and to come out "more than conqueror!" O glorious end for the first called Bishop of our New Zealand Church! Thanks, thanks be to God who hath given to him the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ!




Extract from the "Daily Southern Cross," Nov. 1, 1871.--"The means that have been employed in collecting labourers for the Fijian plantations, and even for Queensland, are now no longer a matter of surmise. It is known that deception and violence have both been unscrupulously used in the work; and that the esteem and reverence entertained by the Islanders for the name and character of the now martyred Bishop have been made the means, by a cruel deception and personation, of enticing Islanders on board the slavers. There are those who have sailed from New Zealand ports, and have been engaged in the carrying of Polynesian labourers, who have publicly boasted of the success of the ruse, and who have stated that clothing themselves in white surplices they have performed mock religious services to the Islanders, and so tempted them in large numbers on board under the impression that the pretended officiating minister was Bishop Patteson himself; and in the cruise of the 'Rosario' a case in point is furnished by Captain Palmer in which the deception was successfully practised. Probably it will require nothing more that the death of this venerable Bishop to direct that attention to this monstrous traffic which will lead to its suppression."

Extract from the "Daily Southern Cross," Nov. 13, 1871.--"On a former occasion we alluded to the fact that the late lamented Bishop Patteson had been frequently personated by persons who, going through a mock religious service, were thus enabled to induce the Islanders to come out to the slave ship in the offing. But it now appears that not the Bishop alone, but the Mission vessels themselves have been counterfeited, and at least one vessel has been at great trouble and expense wholly altered so as to bear the closest possible resemblance to the Mission schooner the 'Southern Cross'; and, in another case, the 'Dayspring', the Mission vessel of the Presbyterian Church. With such practices proceeding, we have no difficulty in realising the amount of danger not only to missionaries alone, but to traders whose business or necessities may bring them among the countless islands that dot these Southern Seas. And though ordinary trading has afforded abundant opportunities to unprincipled men to commit wrong in their dealings with the islanders, and so prejudice them against civilization and commerce, a traffic which seems to have in it inherent elements of evil, and which affords so direct premiums to man-stealing, and which apparently cannot now be carried on without fraud or violence, is one that is to be regarded in a wholly different light, and as having become intolerable.

[18] NOTE B.

The follow extract from the "Report of the Melanesian Mission for 1858," written by the late Bishop Patteson, will exhibit the state of mind of the inhabitants of the island of Nukapu on the occasion of the first visit paid them by the Mission vessel. Although neither Bishop Selwyn or his successor were ever able to obtain scholars from Nukapu for the Mission school,--the Polynesian islanders, as a rule, showing much more reluctance to trust themselves with strangers than Melanesian,--friendly relations were invariably maintained between the islanders and the Missioners, until the late sad occasion. The cause of the change of feeling in the Nukapuans is not difficult to be assigned. Had scholars for the island once visited the Mission School, the possibility of the Bishop's party being confounded in the islanders minds with the lawless unscrupulous "labour seekers" would have been prevented.

"Passing by a small island called Nibloli, and another islet named Beleni, we sailed to the north of a sandbank, and so reached Nukapu, a small low island enclosed within a reef.

"Nukapu is a small flat island, situated in a large lagoon enclosed within a coral reef. The inhabitants differ widely in their language and in their behaviour, from the natives of the neighbouring islands.

"We were met, as we waded to shore, by 20 or 30 people, who led us at once to the village where we found the chief and a considerable party assembled. We sat for about a quarter of an hour in the house of the chief, a room of good size, made as usual of bamboo, and thatched with cocoanut leaves.

"The people speak a dialect of the New Zealand language and it was easy to converse with them sufficiently for our present purpose.

"They possess large sailing canoes, one of which was about to cross over to Santa Cruz. This island may, by God's blessing, afford us an introduction to that large and populous country, and also to the small islands lying to the North of it. We were remarkably struck by the very gentle orderly manners of the people of Nukapu; there was no confusion or noise among the many people who sat or stood around us, but a heartiness of manner and evident desire to do anything that was in their power to please their strange visitors that was all the more gratifying from its contrast with the behaviour of the people at Bararimo and Ieli."



Extract from the journal of the late Rev. Joseph Atkin, 1871. (Published by kind permission of his father, William Atkin, Esq.)

20th September, Wednesday.

"Lowered at half-past 11, about three miles from Nukapu. Pulled to the reef. Low water. The Bishop landed in a canoe. We lay outside the reef, were fired upon (with arrows) and three wounded, Stephen very badly. Went with Mr. Bougard (the mate) to seek for signs of the Bishop. His body sent out to us in a canoe. All the arrows got out except one that is deep in Stephen's chest."

[19] In a letter to his parents, dated 21 Sept., the day after he was wounded and the Bishop was killed, he says, writing of the Bishop, "there was no sign of fear or pain on his face--just the look that he used to have when asleep." * * * "From the nature of the wounds death must have been instantaneous. There had been no mutilation after death."

Extract from a private letter from one who was on board at the time, published in the "New Zealand Herald:"--

"This sad event took place at an islet called Nukapu, 80 miles to the N.E. of Santa Cruz. It was the Bishop's plan to call here first because he could make himself understood by the natives of this place which he is unable to do at the large island. There was a special reason for taking every precaution on the present occasion, for the captain of a labour vessel which had called at Contrarieté, Solomon Islands where the Rev. Mr. Atkin was stationed, had announced his intention of paying a visit to Santa Cruz, which must have taken place (if at all) shortly before our arrival. We reached the islet on September 20, and were surprised to see four canoes hovering to the windward, and not coming out to us as usual. The Bishop determined to pull off to them, and took with him Fr. Atkin, Stephen, of San Christoval, and James and John of Mota. The tide being low, the boat could not cross the reef, so the Bishop went ashore in a canoe manned by two chiefs. When he had been absent about three quarters of an hour, a volley of arrows was fired into the boat which immediately sailed off to the vessel. Mr. Atkin, Stephen, and John, were all wounded. Mr. Atkin, however, returned in the boat in quest of the Bishop. The tide having risen, the boat passed into the lagoon, and in a tenantless canoe was found the Bishop's body, wrapped in native matting, and with a palm branched tied with five knots, thrust into the breast. The right side of the skull was completely shattered, and there were several arrow wounds about the body. The face bore no mark of agony, but smiled sweetly, the eyes were closed."

W. Atkin, Church Printer, High Street, Auckland.

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